I was lucky enough to get to spend six months working in Australia as part of my university program. Throughout the entire process of applying, being accepted, finding a role, and traveling to Melbourne, The Intern Group stayed in touch and provided tips and tricks to reduce friction.
Once I was in Melbourne, the experience was even better. At first, I was a little nervous, but The Intern Group does a lot to help give interns a community to feel comfortable away from home. There were opportunities to explore the city, compete in trivia nights, and meet out to dinner every few weeks, along with bigger excursions like wildlife sanctuaries and beaches. I began in July, one of the more popular months for new interns, so there were about 15-20 of us getting settled in and enjoying the events together. I made some really good friends that I plan on staying in touch with forever.
There were also a lot of opportunities to sightsee more independently. With other interns, I saw the Great Ocean Road and Tasmania (I highly recommend both). On a trip for work, I was also able to visit Sydney alone for a couple of days as well.
As for the internship side of things, it was incredible! Coming in as a computer science student, I was originally unsure of what work I would be doing: would it be interesting and helpful to my career, or would I be doing smaller, more general tasks? However, I ended up joining a non-profit in the startup community, where my role was mainly to maintain and develop the website. Although the internship was unpaid, my supervisor did everything she could to ensure I had opportunities to learn and grow as much as possible.
I had always heard people say that their global experiences were some of the best in their lives and, now that I've had my own, I can't help but agree.
What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
You get out of this experience what you put in.
I had a lot of people telling me, "Oh, it's an unpaid internship. That means you don't have to work very hard: they can't expect you to treat it as seriously as a full-time role." However, once I got to Melbourne, started working, and chatted with other interns, it became so clear that when we worked hard, we learned and grew so much.
If you only put the bare minimum into your internship, you probably won't get all that much from that side of the program.