Industry experience and virtual internships

International students can connect directly with employers in Australia and internationally to grow post-study employment prospects through relevant industry experience opportunities.

Study Australia Industry Experience Program (SAIEP) is a program designed to engage current Australian international students, who are studying offshore and online, and support their post-study employment prospects.

The Program will connect international students directly with employers in Australia and internationally, while also facilitating integration with domestic students to create a peer-to-peer community.

The co-curricular and online programs run for 25 contact hours over two weeks, with student teams based across Australian institutions.

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Virtual internships: what they are and where to find them

We spoke to Practera Programs Manager, Hope Dolino, to outline everything you need to know about virtual internships as an international student.

Virtual_internships

You’ve probably heard of internship programs before. But when you hear the word ‘intern’, what do you picture? Is it an eager young worker running errands, taking notes in meetings and getting coffee for the top bosses? That may still be the case for some internships. But for many students, especially international students studying in Australia, the reality is different.

In 2021, virtual internships are the new normal. These remote work opportunities allow students and graduates to grow their skills and make new connections. Best of all, you can do it from anywhere in the world.

Eager to learn more about virtual internships? In this guide, we outline everything you need to know: what they are, where to find them and how to prepare for them. 
We spoke to Hope Dolino, programs manager at Practera. An online learning platform, Practera fosters job skill development and career preparation. Hope shares her expert insight to answer all of your questions about virtual internships. 

What are virtual internships?

A virtual internship is a type of work placement in which students perform tasks and deliver projects online. Their employers offer collaboration and feedback online as well. Because these internships are online, students can usually participate from anywhere in the world.

According to Hope, virtual internships use a variety of online tools, “such as email, Zoom, project management apps and phone calls”.

She also explains that there are different types of virtual internships.

“There are those that focus on building skills in a chosen field,” she says. “There are also those that help to enhance employability skills that are essential across industries.” 

What are the benefits of virtual internships?

No matter what type of virtual internship you choose, you will be able to develop a range of new skills.

“There is so much to gain from doing virtual internships,” says Hope. 

First, virtual internships allow you to get local experience from anywhere in the world. You’ll have the chance to work with a local Australian company and add that to your CV. Such experience will be a major asset if you plan to work in Australia in the future. The best part? You’ll gain all that experience without having to leave home.

You’ll also have the opportunity to develop a wide range of employability and life skills. Hope lists adaptability, problem-solving and teamwork as some of the most useful. 

Even though these internships are virtual, you’ll still “establish professional connections and form alliances,” explains Hope. She adds that virtual internships allow you to learn from professional mentors in your field, many of whom you wouldn’t be able to access in person.

When you complete a virtual internship, you'll also get digital badges and/or electronic certificates. These act as your proof of engagement. Hope recommends adding these to your LinkedIn profile to show off your practical work experience.

“With the right tools and support, students can gain as much from virtual internships as face-to-face internships,” says Hope. “These experiences are also equally valued by employers.”

Where can I find virtual internships?

If you’re wondering where to search for virtual internships, Hope has a long list of resources to get you started.

“Make sure you check out links to your state or territory study body. These are state government agencies that specifically look after international education programs and students,” she explains. 

She also suggests consulting your institution’s careers support service. Ask if they offer any employability programs and/or virtual internships you can apply for.

In addition, you can reach out to external organisations, such as Practera, to see if they have programs available for you. You can visit their website or email them to seek assistance. In fact, the Australian Government and all Australian states and territories have partnered with Practera to deliver a Study Australia Industry Experience Program (SAIEP): See below.

How can I prepare myself for virtual internships?

Want to improve your chances of getting a virtual internship? Hoping to walk in on your first day as prepared as possible? There are several steps you can take to help you achieve these things. 

According to Hope, the first step is diversifying your abilities. 

“Employers are looking for graduates with a diverse set of skills,” she explains. “In The Future of Jobs Report 2020, published by the World Economic Forum, some of the top skills highlighted were service orientation, problem-solving, collaboration, innovation, cultural consciousness and leadership. This is a good starting point to help students reflect on skills they need to improve to build their personal employability.”

Since virtual internships are online, you’ll also want to boost your digital literacy. Students and graduates need to be technologically adept to thrive in this environment. This is especially important as we see an increase in working from home in the global workforce.

To build these skills, take online courses through sites like LinkedIn Learning or MasterClass. You can also get in touch with Hope and the rest of the team at Practera for further guidance.

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