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Four reasons why international students should return home for an internship

Wing Kuang

Tue May 08 2018


I once held the perception that having local work experience in Australia would be better for an international student than acquiring work experience from home. That’s partly why we choose to study abroad after all – to learn from an environment that mightn’t be shared in our own country.

Yet after returning to my home in China for an internship five months ago, my attitude towards having work experience from home changed.

Internships are valuable where ever you have them but sometimes, an internship from home could yield different results that you might not have received from a local work experience opportunity in Australia. What are these benefits, you ask? Here are four reasons why you should consider returning home for an internship.

More job opportunities

Internships in Australia can sometimes be quite pesky for international students as some employers’ attitudes towards international student recruitment, shifting visa regulations and other factors can get in the way of potentially getting your foot in the door.

But back home, the story can be a lot different. Employers from home may look favourably on an overseas degree, especially if they recognise the institution you’re educated in, thus giving you more working opportunities to choose from.

An internship from home can also enable you access to the Australian work force too. What you’ve learned from your internship at home could be later applied to locally and for Australian employers with a strong interest in overseas expansion, having an international connection between you and your previous employer could be a huge upside for you.

Professional network at home

For many fresh international student graduates, one reason why they may struggle to find a job when they decide to return to their home country is due to their limited industry contacts there. And when you’re studying overseas, building a professional network back home whilst balancing your studies is difficult.

But an internship at home can help change that as it gives you the means to make industry connections during your studies. An internship during the semester break gives you the chance to meet new people on the job, reconnect with old friends and spend time with family. You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities it will lead you too so value the time you have on the job and with your friends and family while you’re back!

Reminders of a dream

Some idealistic students will already have an idea of what awaits them before they’ve arrived in Australia to study. Some come to Australia in pursuit of a dream but with all of life’s obstacles getting in the way, sometimes holding onto that dream can be challenging – especially if you’re a student who has tried tirelessly to land some kind of work experience in Australia.

If a student is successful in getting an internship from their home, it might be the catalyst that a downtrodden student would need to remind them of why they decided to travel abroad in the first place. It may reinvigorate them to stay on track and persevere, to run straight through to the finish line.

Adjusting to trends in the industry at home

As international students, we’re quite fortunate to be able to travel between countries for work and study. But sometimes, how the industry behaves and operates at home will differ to what’s expected in Australia.

By finding experience at home during your studies, you’ll be able to better prepare yourself for work in the future if you return home. You’ll be introduced to or reacquainted with the current trends in your industry and can navigate the cultural differences between Australia and your home country.

It helps to stay in touch this way and you’d be able to find your place in the industry more easily once you finish your overseas degree.

Okay, you’ve convinced me – what’s next? How do I begin applying for an internship back home?

So what can international students do now to prepare for an internship back home? What can they do to make themselves stand out? Here’s what I learnt:

  • Be prepared: The process of applying for internships could vary from country to country so make sure you’ve done enough research about these processes. Ask your friends who study at home, or go through websites specifically outlining what to expect from student internships in your home country.
  • Be confident: Don’t be afraid of applying internships which require strong local knowledge. You might feel a bit unfamiliar with your home industry at first, but you can easily catch up with them on the job. As stated, your international student experience alone is proof that you are adaptable.
  • Show your competencies: Impress your potential employers and interviewers with your experience and abilities. You have grown from your experience in Australia, and now it’s time to present what you’ve learned to people at home!