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How int’l students can gain valuable work experience through ‘LIVE Projects’

Samantha Chew

Thu Jul 13 2017


Opportunities to find valuable work experience with meaningful career outcomes may appear hard to come by as an international student but the launch of the LIVE Projects program, an initiative spearheaded by Intersective and Study Melbourne, aims to change that by connecting students with government, community organisations and corporations.

Its objective? Provide students with real life business experience by working together on a project for three to six weeks and in turn provide community organisations and businesses with ideas and innovations presented to them by Melbourne’s proactive international student community.

The LIVE Projects kicked off in late June where eager international students filed into Arts Centre Melbourne for an orientation session. Students were put into groups and then paired with mentors from organisations and businesses such as Victoria Police, Arts Centre Melbourne, City of Melbourne, Study Melbourne and many more. Representatives from educational institutions RMIT and University of Melbourne were also present.

During the orientation, students were briefed about their tasks. Speakers and mentors placed emphasis on the responsibility each student had to ensure collaborative teamwork was reinforced throughout their project. Workshops advising students on how to properly conduct themselves within an Australian workplace culture were also presented.

Representing Arts Centre Melbourne, Strategic Relationship Manager Chris Clark will mentor a group whose project involves looking after a performance in Melbourne by the Chinese Orchestra.

“It was lovely to see them talking about things like how to write emails and how to be a team player — they’re those kind of soft skills people [need] to work in business,” Chris said.

He further explained that the students involved in the Arts Centre Melbourne project will be dipping their toes other parts of the organisations such as marketing, education, front-of-house, performing arts and even security.

Mentor Gary Lee, International Student and Youth Project Officer with the City of Melbourne believed that the collaboration between international students and Australian businesses will benefit all parties involved. But just like any workplace, he will be unafraid to exercise some tough love to help develop students.

“You can learn everything from books but if you don’t get the opportunity to pitch and get some tough critique of your work, it takes a longer time to learn,” he says.

“I’m hoping that being an ex-international student, knowing where they come from, knowing where they can be, that tough love will help them shape up their proposal when they pitch it,” he added.

Thomas Birkenes, an international post-graduate student from Norway, felt the LIVE project was an opportunity to help grow local industries.

“International students come with different experiences and backgrounds and you often will have different ideas on how to solve a problem. Someone from a certain culture may not have the answer to everything. while someone else will, so having that little bit of mixture is perfect,” Thomas said.

Another international post-graduate student, Muhammad Faisal, was very positive about his experiences at orientation.

“It has been a wonderful day. [I’ve] met people from different universities from different parts of the world and different backgrounds, learning with them and sharing experiences with them,” he said.

He believed that teamwork, time management, and being able to gain insight into the industry and Australian work practices were some of the skills and benefits he would gain from undertaking the project.

The first of its kind, many are hopeful that this program will strengthen the working relationship between the international student community and Australia’s workforce.

For more information on the program and how you can get involved, visit Intersective’s website here.