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The name Oceania inspires whispering palms, rolling waves and the song of some tropical bird. In imagination, it looks like the sort of place where 'work' rarely happens, and every job is rewarded with surf breaks and coconut juice. Yet this geographic region - stretching from Australia, up and over the South Pacific islands, as far East as Chile's Easter Island - covers one of the world's largest and most unusual collection of countries, and is the scene for a unique and challenging catalog of internship experiences.
Whether it's implementing microfinance measures in Tonga, or assisting with marine management at an aquarium in Palau, your opportunities are nearly as vast as Oceania, itself. And that's before you start searching for work in Australia or New Zealand!
Due to recent tourism and infrastructural standardization in most of the Western World, this area is considered one of the last frontiers for global development. Learn about the grassroots of an industry, engage in indigenous culture, and be part of the future with an internship in Oceania.
The key to finding an ideal internship position in Oceania is a lot like catching crabs on a beach: you have to be persistent and dig deep. While Australia and New Zealand offer heaps of internships, the more isolated and under-developed South Pacific nations may have internship opportunities that are less-advertised and thus harder to find. However, a detailed internet search will reveal at least one position in every country. Internships in tourism, conservation and development industries (such as education and finance), are especially prevalent.
Internships can be found in Australia and New Zealand at any time of the year. For the biggest number of opportunities, begin your search in population centers like Sydney and Melbourne, or Auckland and Wellington, where both established companies and start-ups are looking for help. While internships are more elusive in smaller countries, and may be arbitrarily determined by the employer, interns seeking placements in the tourism, service and conservation industries should be sure to apply outside of the tropical storm season (roughly May through November). During this period, visitor numbers shrink and dangerous weather slows down many daily aspects of life.
Due to the discrepancy in living standards between modernized Australia and the under-developed Pacific nations, like Vanuatu, the cost of living in each place differs immensely. Interns in Australia and New Zealand will find higher costs on everything, from a $12 pint of beer to $150 a week for housing and rent. Share-flatting with other interns, taking public transport and dining in are budget-cutting options. Most big cities sponsor loads of free events, so take advantage of these.
Luckily, your temporary work visas in New Zealand and Australia will allow you to take on a side job, if needed. Use online job boards like Gumtree and Trade Me to find employment, cheap second-hand goods and deals on accommodation. That said, expect to spend significantly less in most other Pacific islands - simply because the local currency is worth less and there are fewer things to spend it on.
Challenging projects, valuable working experience and the world's most unique scenery await the intern willing to seek out a placement in Oceania. Though these positions may not always top a Google search list, the rewards of finding an internship in remote Samoa or outback Australia will be well worth the extra search. Not only will you find yourself in a gorgeous location, but working at the forefront of hospitality and tourism, international development, arts and culture. And who knows - you might even get to keep those surf breaks!
Kelli left a small, Midwest American town to prove that Yanks can, and do, chose alternative lifestyles. Desperate to challenge this stereotype, Kelli has served over 10,000 pints of foreign beer; played the organ at five funerals; participated in two motorcycle rallies and plunged far too many clogged toilets. After working with Burmese refugees in Thailand, she decided to pursue a MA in Global Development and is, naturally, getting distracted along the road back to school. Opportunities for international work and travel are encouraged on her blog, Too Much For Words and Facebook.
Photo Credit: Auckland, New Zealand