Study in Australia

Australian Internships for International Students

An internship is a valuable opportunity to gain on-the-job experience in your chosen field. Studying for your University degree can be challenging but practical experience can go a long way towards expanding your learning and understanding.

Allianz Global Assistance Overseas Health - Australian Internships for International Students

Are you looking for an internship but don’t know where to start? We’ve come up with some hot tips for finding and applying for an internship if you are an international student.

What are the benefits of internships?

At first glance, working while studying could seem like time that is better spent on the books. But delving deeper, you’ll see that an internship provides a range of benefits that will actually help you with your studies and with your career prospects later on.

  • Work experience – All the books in the world won’t teach you everything you need to know about your chosen profession. There is no substitute for real world experience. You will learn important skills, have face-to-face contact with key players and get a feel for working in the industry.
  • Networking – Your internship will put you in front of people in your industry that could be helpful now or later on. They may ultimately be your employer, your mentor, your connection to job prospects or even a friend you can turn to for advice.
  • Future job opportunities – With an internship on your résumé, you put yourself forward as a focused individual with clear goals.
  • Payment – A paid internship will be more beneficial than taking on another job such as Uber driving or waiting tables.

Are some cities better than others for internships?

If you will be seeking an Australian internship, then a bigger city will often be better in terms of opportunities. Also, in some cases, the more highly recognised a city is on the world stage, the better your internship will look on your résumé later on.

So imagine you completed an internship at a multinational accounting firm in Melbourne. Obviously the recognition would be far greater than had you worked at a smaller firm in Hobart, Tasmania which only has a couple of locations across Australia.

Still, you may have a preference for smaller, more intimate workplace environments for the kind of experience you can gain there, such as more one-to-one mentorship. Ultimately, it’s up to you and it’s up to the availability of internships for your qualifications.

How to find an internship

Your first port of call when looking for an internship is your University’s guidance or careers counsellor. Employer organisations often partner with Universities to find placements for internships so the counsellor could put you in direct contact with the recruiter. You could also check your University’s intranet or notice boards for advertisements or listings for internships.

There are also private internship placement providers that specialise in matching students with internships. They often post listings on their own websites but you can otherwise make an appointment to meet with a consultant who can take you through the process of recruitment. Internship placement providers can help you understand the employment culture in Australia and the specific workplace and can help you prepare a résumé and yourself for your best chances of success.

Also try job sites such as Seek, Monster, Indeed and CareerOne. Attend career fairs and expos and engage in conversations with recruiters. You can also make a profile for yourself on LinkedIn and approach employer organisations that mention internships.

Finally, you can try to find an internship independently. It involves calling, emailing, writing and visiting employer organisations that you want to work for and trying to get an appointment.

How to apply for an internship

Once you’ve identified an internship you want to apply for, it’s time to prepare your application. Be aware of availability timelines. Some internships come up at the beginning of the financial year, others at the beginning of the calendar year and still others are offered over the summer University break.

  1. Compile a great résumé and portfolio. Make sure your résumé is up-to-date and lists all relevant work experience, academic achievements, volunteering experience, languages spoken and relevant hobbies. Don’t forget to include any awards or prizes you’ve won or other recognition you’ve received. Your portfolio should feature your best work in relevant skills areas such as writing, graphic design, coding, building design or mathematics.
  2. Write an outstanding cover letter. Make sure your application is memorable by writing a clear, easy to understand cover letter that explains who you are and why you’re perfect for the job. Mention your flexibility and your keenness to work for the company.
  3. Adhere to application deadlines. If your application is submitted late, you’ve missed a prime opportunity.
  4. Apply for more than one. Leave your options open. If you miss out on your favourite internship, you have others to look forward to.
  5. Follow application guidelines. Submit all the requested documentation and if an essay is requested, be sure to adhere to the word count and answer the topic thoroughly and succinctly.
  6. Submit your application as required. If the instructions say to email your application with/without attachments, do so. If a video introduction is to be included or other multimedia items are required, be sure to comply.

What to remember for your internship interview

Your interview is your opportunity to shine. You get to show off your skills, academic achievements and personability. It’s important to ask questions, talk positively about yourself, take an interest in the organisation and give a clear idea of what you bring to the role.

  • Dress appropriately. Though you may be a student on a budget, it’s important that you turn up for your interview in clean, up-to-date clothing, well-groomed and with good personal hygiene.
  • Always arrive on time. Being too early looks overly keen and your interviewer may not be ready for you yet. Being late is a sure-fire way to be overlooked for the role.
  • Do not attend an interview unprepared. Research the organisation and its key people and clients. Figure out exactly where you fit within it now and where you see yourself in three, six or twelve months’ time.
  • Ask plenty of questions. First, listen. Let your interviewer explain the role and what they’re looking for and then ask intelligent questions that show you have paid attention.
  • Take your updated résumé. You will probably have already sent your résumé in advance but take another copy so that you have something to leave behind.
  • Be ready with answers. Typically, at an internship interview, you’ll be asked where you see yourself in five years’ time, why you chose your particular career, what makes you different from your peers and what special skills or aptitudes you bring to the role. Write down your answers to these questions then practice delivering them verbally in a mirror.

After the interview

Evaluate how you think the interview went and determine if there are ways you can improve your performance next time. Two or three days after the interview, send a follow-up, thanking the interviewer for their time and enquiring as to your application’s progress.

An internship is a productive use of your non-study time and a fabulous way to learn the ins and outs of the field you want to work in once you graduate. Good luck finding the internship that you want!

References

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