Born in Spain before moving to Queensland at a young age, Luisa Cools’s studies have now taken her to Asia.
What are you doing now in your career?
I’ve been living and working in Asia since graduation, mostly in South Korea, but also spending time between China and Taiwan. I’m in an exciting transitional period in my career, working in the nexus of innovation and global development.
My focus these days is on supporting change-makers and entrepreneurs who work in social impact, poverty alleviation and sustainability in East Asia. I love living in Asia and it is always a pleasant surprise to meet other Queenslanders and professionals who have studied in Queensland during my travels here.
Tell us about your studies …
I graduated from Griffith University with a double-degree - Bachelor of Asian and International Studies/Bachelor of Communication. I also completed a third major in Mandarin Chinese language and the PACIBER Diploma of Asian Business and Culture.
How did you decide on Queensland for your studies?
While I had looked at similar degrees in Asian studies and international relations at universities in other (Australian) states, it was ultimately Griffith University’s strong Asia focus and the unique combination of their double-degree offerings that led to me study in Queensland. Griffith University has historically had very strong ties with Asia, being the first university in Australia to offer a degree in Asian Studies in 1975. It was for this reason that I chose to study there.
How has your experience in Queensland helped you with your career?
Without a doubt, my university studies and strong support and encouragement from my professors and mentors really opened-up a world of opportunities for me. The City of Brisbane also has strong ties to Asia, being the organiser and host of the Asia-Pacific Cities Summit.
Did you work or undertake projects with employers or industry groups during your studies? If yes, how did this experience benefit your career?
I was fortunate enough to have some wonderful work-experiences and industry exposure while studying. This began with an internship at the Australian Institute of International Affairs’ Brisbane branch, which I heard about through my professors who often lectured there. This gave me a great introduction to policy discourse in international affairs.
Following this, my most transformative experience came through interning for Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ), in the International Aid and Development Business Unit. I undertook this internship as part of a Work-Integrated-Learning (WIL) course offered at my university. This experience introduced me to my early career path and opened my eyes to the link between business, foreign aid and global development.
Why did you decide to work in this area?
For me, working with social enterprises and collaborating with entrepreneurs was a natural progression after doing projects in the private, public and non-profit sectors. I love working with mission-driven organisations and collaborating with people from different industries and sectors to solve a common problem!
What was the highlight of your experience living in Queensland?
There was really such a diverse group of students from all countries, backgrounds and experiences. Because Brisbane is a smaller city than other state capitals, it is easier to connect and engage with other students! The proximity to the beautiful coastlines and mountains also makes it a great and relaxed environment for studying and being a young person! I was lucky enough to be in Brisbane while the 2014 G20 Leaders Summit took place, which was definitely a highlight of my university experience.
What career-advice would you give to give future students thinking about studying in Queensland?
While there are many opportunities to take advantage of, they will not come automatically. You need to actively pursue them and seek them out! Being so passionate about my area of study and career, I was constantly on the search for interesting internships, lectures, workshops and opportunities to engage with other leaders and students interested in the same things I was. Connect and talk with as many people as you can, is my best advice!
In recent years, Queensland has become a very popular choice for international students. Since I graduated and moved to Asia, I am constantly amazed at the growth and development of the foreign student community and the growing influx of products, food and culture from Asia. With this, comes more and more young Australians who are also interested in engaging with Asia. There are a wide variety of clubs, community groups, activities and events that you can join to meet diverse and fun groups of people!