EDGE Spotlight

The EDGE Spotlight profiles PhD candidates and recent graduates, to find out how they’ve engaged in research and transferrable skills development during their PhD. We’ve aligned these experiences to the four domains of EDGE to help you think about the types of activities you might build into your personalised EDGE development plan.

EDGE supports you to develop your career throughout candidature, building skills knowledge, and experiences across the four domains of the EDGE Framework:

EDGE Spotlight on Tom Debenedictis

PhD Title: 'The impact of the mechanical whole-body vibration experienced during motorised military land transit on the physical attributes that underpin dismounted combatant physical performance'


Tom Debenedictis

Dr Tom Debenedictis commenced his PhD in the Division of Health Sciences in 2014 under the supervision of Associate Professor Dominic Thewlis. Tom's project examined the impact of whole-body vibrations on physical performance in a military setting. He is now employed as a Physical Performance Manager with the South Australian National Football League (SANFL).

We talked to Tom about his development experiences during his PhD, how these enhanced his candidature and presented opportunities to shape his post-PhD career

imagecgr78.png  Research Expertise:  addressing the needs of your research project

Tom found value in training that was broadly focused on academic skills, and in working with University librarians and statisticians.

"A lot of the training I did within the University were things like writing workshops, statistics workshops, how to run a systematic review…."

 EDGE offers workshops which address discipline-specific expertise in addition to those skills needed by all research candidates. Tom found that it was critical to be self-directed, taking ownership of all learning opportunities. 

"I never turned up to any of these one on ones or workshops having no idea, I always tried to go to it with an idea of what I wanted to get from it." 

image3xshp.png  Enterprising Futures: responding to industry needs for specific attributes and competencies

Tom had opportunities to collaborate with fellow PhD candidates through industry-related projects that developed his research, skills and career outcomes.  

"We had a good office space with others who were also sport related, and we ended up doing a couple of additional research projects outside our PhDs."  

One of these projects was with the South Australia National Footbal League (SANFL) looking at different field-based testing methods to prescribe conditioning sessions with players’ movement capcity to understand how it relates to injury. While this project was not directly related to his PhD, the relationship he formed and the experience he obtained through this project situated him well when he interviewed later for a position with SANFL which he was success in obtaining.

"A lot of those projects helped me build relationships here (SANFL), and so that did help a lot when the Manager here was on my interview panel, it helped that he knew what I could bring to the table, from doing those SANFL related side research projects."

image8m8mj.png  Skills in Practice: recognising the value of experiential and work-integrated learning

Practical experience throughout candidature is an excellent way to position yourself as career-ready when considering post-PhD opportunities. Tom found that the additional projects demonstrated initiative, teamwork and added to publications.

"It helped me but I have no doubt it helped some of the others as well, because you get to the end of the PhD and instead of three or four publications, you are able to get to 7, 8 or 9 publications.  They were all little side projects that didn’t take that long to do, and it gets you out of the office too!"

Throughout candidature, Tom used networking opportunities to help build research and industry-specific relationships.

"Conference presentations are always a great opportunity to network.  The final conference I went to was a big defence related conference, and a great opportunity to network.  I ended up meeting everyone I ended up working with last year in Melbourne.  And I met the equivalents in the UK and US as well, so that was really good."

image58fo.png  Careers in Focus:  helping you to reflect, plan and manage your skills needs in alignment with your career ambitions

Starting with the end in mind is important to focus candidates on reasons for taking opportunities that come along during the PhD and can provide the motivation to continue. 

"My PhD was military related, and I have ended up in the sports industry where I wanted to be. I saw the PhD as an opportunity to diversify my skill set and my career opportunities. I understood that in the sports industry there aren’t that many full-time jobs and those jobs that are there aren’t very permanent. So, then a lot of work I did outside of my PhD, with SANFL, was focussed towards keeping that on track."

Current and commencing PhD candidates can record all formal and informal career planning and development activity in EDGEx, which contributes to their personal portfolio of research and transferable skills.