Is this the ‘WORLD’S BEST KEPT SECRET’ for Australian business owners?

In an economy where resources are stretched more than ever, businesses struggle to find capable talent. With wage costs increasing, many businesses owners find themselves with far more work than available time. Many would like to engage an intern to help, but simply can’t afford to pay them – but do they need to?

Heralded as the ‘world’s best kept secret’ for business owners, it is not only possible to have an unpaid intern, but very advantageous to do so. So if you’re under-resourced and time poor (read: everyone!) here’s why you should consider engaging an international student intern, and how you can obtain one:

Why should I consider an international student intern?

A qualified (and possibly experienced) extra set of hands

Every business appreciates an extra set of hands for the projects that they just don’t have time to do themselves. With interns qualified in areas such as accounting and ICT, there is a vast array of valuable and important projects you can receive assistance with.

What’s more, many international student interns also have work experience, that they obtained previously in their home country. This means that only minimal training may be required, and you may be able to receive assistance on more senior projects.

Motivation and positivity in droves

No matter how great your business is, it can always benefit from more positive and motivated employees! International students who are at the beginning of their careers in Australia are known for their positivity, motivation and great work ethic, and as such can be a great asset to your team.

Value in diversity

Cultural diversity is so important for any business – organisations that areculturally diverse are more profitable, as well as more innovative, andallemployees of culturally diverse organisations are more engaged, and happier at work.International students can also bring particular diversity benefits including the ability to talk to your customers or clients in different languages, and an in-depth understanding of overseas markets and business cultures.

It’s free (legally)

As all business owners would know, it is very difficult to (legally) hire an unpaid intern.

However, when you engage an international student intern, they complete their intern placement (usually 12 week, full-time or part-time) as part of a course called Professional Year, So, it is perfectly legal to engage them in this manner, and one of the only legal ways to do so (vocational placement according to the Fair Work Act).

How can I obtain one?

Outcome.Life is proud to be able to provide businesses with talented and motivated international student interns. Feel free to contact me at domenic@outcome.life, reach out via LinkedIn, or give me a call on 0410 662 393 to find out more.

Outcome.Life is a visionary portal that helps to transform the lives of international students through education, connectivity, community, and much more.

Why startups and companies should give International interns a go

Just like shoes, university courses, and Pokemon lures, not all internships are created equal. Some are enriching, inspirational experiences, where you learn more than you ever dreamed of about the profession, organisation and people that surround you. These types of internships categorically set you up for career success – these are the way internships should be. However, there are other types of internships – those that do not set you up for success. These are the ones that every intern has nightmares about. The ones where you sit in the corner on Facebook (if you’re lucky!), incessantly watching the clock until your internship ends and then you feel like a failure. No one wants these types of internships yet unfortunately, they still exist.

But how do you know which one you’ll get? Fortunately, the type of internship you end up with is well within your control. So for every international student who wants to make their internship count, here’s our advice on what you need to do:

Do your research

Like most things in life, thorough preparation is the key to choosing the right internship. You’ll need to research your potential host organisation, the person who will be your direct manager (to a degree – stalking not required!), and also you’ll need to understand your potential job description in more detail (if you’ve been provided with one). Your research to-do list should include:

    1. Research the organisation you’ll work for.What are the company’s values? Can you garner any information on the organisational culture? How do they appear to treat their employees? Although you won’t always be able to find this information (especially for small businesses or startups who don’t yet have a big digital presence!), you might still be able to get some clues as to how your potential host organisation treat their employees, which might give you an indication of how you’ll be treated.
    2. Research the person you’ll be working for. As the saying goes, pick a boss, not a job – and for interns, that is particularly true. Your direct supervisor has the ability to make or break your internship so you want to ensure that they also want to make your experience meaningful. Although there is no real way to evaluate this prior to meeting the person, if you want to be a little sneaky, look up their LinkedIn profile. Do they have any positive reviews from past colleagues or direct reports? Have they had management experience? These factors could indicate that they may be good intern managers.
      • Understand your job description. You’ll only get the most out of your internship if you understand, enjoy, and are able to complete the tasks on your job description. That’s why it’s important that you take the time to evaluate it, and prepare any questions you might have prior to your internship interview.

 

Ask the right questions in the interview

Many international students believe that an interview is a one-way street where they are assessed for the job and that’s about it – but this is untrue. An interview is also your chance to (politely and respectfully) ask questions of your interviewer to ascertain whether the internship is right for you.

Asking the following questions will help you establish the quality of your internship:

 

  • Can you tell me a bit more about what I’ll be doing day-to-day.? Look for a somewhat detailed response to this question – if your interviewer doesn’t know, there’s a chance they haven’t got much planned for you!
  • If I run out of work, what should I do?This question is your assurance that you won’t be Facebooking all day – if the interviewer says ‘you can either approach me or XYZ person’ you know that you can, at any time, request more work.
  • I’m really keen to advance my career. What skills do you think I’ll learn from this internship?Again, this is an assurance for you that you’ll get the experience you’ll need.
  • Feedback is so important to me. How will that be provided throughout the internship?The one thing interns need more than anything is feedback, so they know whether or not they are doing a good job. If your interviewer has a plan for giving you feedback, you’ll know that they’re prioritising your development.

Beyond the above questions, try to subtly assess your interviewer. Do they seem genuinely interested in your professional development? Do they seem eager to get you involved in their team? If so, they’ll be more likely to invest the time and energy required to provide you with a good experience.

Choose a reputable internship provider

Try as you might, it can be very difficult to pick a good internship from a bad one. Often, the signs just aren’t there and you might end up in a bad internship, despite your best efforts not to.

Herein lies the importance of choosing a reputable internship provider. The best internship providers always vet their host organisations to ensure they provide students with an enriching experience. They also put in place structures, such as learning agreements and regular catch ups, to ensure that both the student and host organisation are getting the most out of the internship.

The importance of choosing the RIGHT internship, especially for international students

Just like shoes, university courses, and Pokemon lures, not all internships are created equal. Some are enriching, inspirational experiences, where you learn more than you ever dreamed of about the profession, organisation and people that surround you. These types of internships categorically set you up for career success – these are the way internships should be. However, there are other types of internships – those that do not set you up for success. These are the ones that every intern has nightmares about. The ones where you sit in the corner on Facebook (if you’re lucky!), incessantly watching the clock until your internship ends and then you feel like a failure. No one wants these types of internships yet unfortunately, they still exist.

But how do you know which one you’ll get? Fortunately, the type of internship you end up with is well within your control. So for every international student who wants to make their internship count, here’s our advice on what you need to do:

Do your research

Like most things in life, thorough preparation is the key to choosing the right internship. You’ll need to research your potential host organisation, the person who will be your direct manager (to a degree – stalking not required!), and also you’ll need to understand your potential job description in more detail (if you’ve been provided with one). Your research to-do list should include:

    1. Research the organisation you’ll work for.What are the company’s values? Can you garner any information on the organisational culture? How do they appear to treat their employees? Although you won’t always be able to find this information (especially for small businesses or startups who don’t yet have a big digital presence!), you might still be able to get some clues as to how your potential host organisation treat their employees, which might give you an indication of how you’ll be treated.
    2. Research the person you’ll be working for. As the saying goes, pick a boss, not a job – and for interns, that is particularly true. Your direct supervisor has the ability to make or break your internship so you want to ensure that they also want to make your experience meaningful. Although there is no real way to evaluate this prior to meeting the person, if you want to be a little sneaky, look up their LinkedIn profile. Do they have any positive reviews from past colleagues or direct reports? Have they had management experience? These factors could indicate that they may be good intern managers.
      • Understand your job description. You’ll only get the most out of your internship if you understand, enjoy, and are able to complete the tasks on your job description. That’s why it’s important that you take the time to evaluate it, and prepare any questions you might have prior to your internship interview.

 

Ask the right questions in the interview

Many international students believe that an interview is a one-way street where they are assessed for the job and that’s about it – but this is untrue. An interview is also your chance to (politely and respectfully) ask questions of your interviewer to ascertain whether the internship is right for you.

Asking the following questions will help you establish the quality of your internship:

 

  • Can you tell me a bit more about what I’ll be doing day-to-day.? Look for a somewhat detailed response to this question – if your interviewer doesn’t know, there’s a chance they haven’t got much planned for you!
  • If I run out of work, what should I do?This question is your assurance that you won’t be Facebooking all day – if the interviewer says ‘you can either approach me or XYZ person’ you know that you can, at any time, request more work.
  • I’m really keen to advance my career. What skills do you think I’ll learn from this internship?Again, this is an assurance for you that you’ll get the experience you’ll need.
  • Feedback is so important to me. How will that be provided throughout the internship?The one thing interns need more than anything is feedback, so they know whether or not they are doing a good job. If your interviewer has a plan for giving you feedback, you’ll know that they’re prioritising your development.

Beyond the above questions, try to subtly assess your interviewer. Do they seem genuinely interested in your professional development? Do they seem eager to get you involved in their team? If so, they’ll be more likely to invest the time and energy required to provide you with a good experience.

Choose a reputable internship provider

Try as you might, it can be very difficult to pick a good internship from a bad one. Often, the signs just aren’t there and you might end up in a bad internship, despite your best efforts not to.

Herein lies the importance of choosing a reputable internship provider. The best internship providers always vet their host organisations to ensure they provide students with an enriching experience. They also put in place structures, such as learning agreements and regular catch ups, to ensure that both the student and host organisation are getting the most out of the internship.

Looking for your first job? Land an internship instead

Ask anyone looking to land their first great job and they’ll tell you that finding a job in their industry isn’t easy. The likelihood of getting a call back from an advertised position on a job board is fairly low given the high number of applicants relative to a single position.Undertaking an internship prior to looking for your first permanent role may be a better choice.In industries such as investment banking, statistics show that up to 80% of positions are filled by people who have already undertaken an internship at the same firm. Statistics like these can’t be ignored. Here’s why an internship may be the best way to get a job you’ll love.

Experience is vital

While previous employment in retail, hospitality or similar industries can demonstrate customer service skills and workplace experience, it probably won’t be enough.Experience in a relevant or similar industry to that desired is mostly favoured by employers. It is not only the experience itself that is significant but other facets of the internship that prove beneficial.

Interning in the industry allows the opportunity to build contacts and expand your professional network, increasing opportunities for employment and collaboration in the future.

The experience can also create positive relationships between you and others from the host organisation and ultimately lead to the perfect reference for a future job. After all, recruiters are more likely value a reference from someone you have worked for rather than someone you haven’t.

For internationals, many businesses expect new recruits to already have had previous experience in Australia. But how do you get local work experience if everyone already wants you to have local work experience? An internship is the perfect way to achieve this.

Learn on the job

Older people will be able to tell you that once you would get trained on the job and prior experience or education was not required. Unfortunately, this rarely happens these days and some extent of education and previous work is expected.

I think that internships should be viewed as the modern-day version of ‘getting trained on the job’. They allow for practical learning and experience to coincide with education and existing qualifications and are a segue into further employment, possibly at the same company.

Qualifications aren’t enough

Various universities, TAFEs and other educational institutions are offering internships as part of their courses.

Educational institutions are seeking to improve graduate employability and they too are recognising that a qualification alone is no longer sufficient to land a job in certain industries.

For those currently completing courses where an internship is only optional, I think you’re crazy not to be doing it.

Prove yourself in person and not on a piece of a paper

You have 12 weeks to show the value that you can bring to your host organisation during your internship. Make yourself indispensable and ensure that by the end of the internship, everyone in the organisation knows who you are and how you have benefited the company.

Internships also allow for networking. You meet customers, other staff members, suppliers and even friends of colleagues. There is no choice but to network with people from different ages, demographics and cultures, which ultimately gives you the opportunity to prove yourself to an even broader spectrum of people.