LOOKING for an internship can be frustrating, especially when you don’t know where to start. Ernest Lee checks in with career consultants on ways to kickstart your career while still at university.
University students often know that it is necessary to have the relevant internship or work experience under your belt to give you an edge over other applicants, especially upon graduation. Work experience is a key prerequisite that employers often look out for nowadays when they are hiring staff.
Monash University’s Multicultural Employment Consultant, Danny Ong told Meld Magazine that it is important to have relevant experience to back up your academic qualifications.
“A degree is no longer an exclusive qualification whether only a selected few can undertake. Employers are looking at students who can demonstrate whether they can apply their academic knowledge to real life setting,” he said.
It is extremely important for graduates to possess prior work experience and the best time to start doing these internships and work experience placements is during your studies.
Students often want to look for an industrial placement or internship, but have no idea where to begin.
First, you need to narrow down your preference. Which industries are you interested in? If you are unsure, having a few choices may not be a bad thing either. You can decide after undertaking an internship if that career path is for you.
Internship opportunities can differ for every industry. Some industries such as engineering and commerce might have more internship opportunities than the others but do not let that deter you from applying for an internship in your preferred industry.
If you were to encounter rejections or difficulties along the way during the application process, do not give up. Seek help from your university’s career counselling service, or talk to those who are already working in your chosen field. Find ways to help your resume stand out from the crowd.
Michelle Maes, an Employment and Career Development Consultant from Monash University advises students to be more pro-active in their search.
“Students who are looking for internships should consider all of the options that are available, including casual and part time work for work experience,” she said.
Going to career fairs can also be a great way to see what are some of the available work opportunities out there.
According to Ms Maes, big corporations from the commerce and engineering industries start recruiting interns at career fairs, as they have the funding to support an internship program for students.
Students who are looking for work experience in the creative industry need to be more tenacious and take more initiative when applying for internships, as most companies do not actively advertise internship opportunities.
Utilising your universities career services and job boards can be quite useful too as it will return specific job search results relevant to the industries you are after.
More opportunities can be found in small to medium companies regardless of industries where they do not advertise for internship opportunities but would take on interns if student applied for it, Ms Maes added.
While doing an internship and having work experience can be important, it is equally important for students to be well aware of their rights at work.
Mr Ong warns students, especially international students about numerous scams that surrounds internships and work experience opportunities.
“There are numerous scams (notably in the accounting and finance areas) where unscrupulous companies are targeting vulnerable international students by offering unpaid internship that may be illegal,” he told Meld.
Additionally, international students may find that most internships are advertised for Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents only. Understanding your work rights and seeking help from your university to get around these regulations is a good way to start.
There is no particular industry that is easier than the others to get into, every industry has its own standards and requirements,
The safest thing that international students can do is to do an internship or industrial work experience as part of a university curriculum where insurance coverage would be taken care by the university.
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