Swinburne is offering virtual overseas internships to help students gain international work experience, despite not being able to travel abroad.
A total of 36 students participated in the Summer 2020/21 virtual overseas internship pilot program, which was developed by Swinburne’s Global Mobility Team.
‘We believe that international work experience provides students with sought-after skills that will set them apart as they enter the workforce,’ says the acting Associate Director of Global Mobility, Diana Gonzalez.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions meant that all in-person overseas programs were suspended from March 2020.
‘Our team had to quickly pivot and adapt to the new environment. With the help of our international partners, we developed a pilot program to offer students a small number of third party supported virtual internship programs,’ Ms Gonzalez explains.
‘This involved working on various projects for the organisations, meeting virtually with clients and other staff members, as well as attending online cultural events,’ she adds.
The Global Mobility Team organised six different programs in eight countries across Asia, North America and Europe. The variety in program offerings allowed students from different study areas to participate.
Preparing students for the workforce
Engineering student Alan Occhipinti completed a virtual internship program thwith an organisation based in China.
‘During my internship, my role revolved around product design and innovation. I was also tasked with modernising a food kiosk and optimising its freezer space. These tasks encouraged me to be observant in providing improvements to a product already heavily revised by engineers.
‘I also enjoyed learning about Chinese culture from my cultural mentor, including learning the language and participating in events to understand the engineering industry in China,’ he explains.
Following his internship, Alan plans to pursue mechanical product design as a career.
Dipesh Goyal, who is studying for a Bachelor of Computer Science, says that he felt well connected with his team throughout his internship.
‘I interned with VTI Global Joint Stock company, which is based in Vietnam. I was a little nervous going into this program as it was a completely different environment. However, my host provider at FPT University was really helpful during this experience. They organised weekly sessions to familiarise us with Vietnam and I was assigned a supervisor from Swinburne. I believe the skills I gained during this internship will help me in the future,’ says Dipesh.
Law student Anna Maurer interned with a law firm based in Malaysia. She says her internship gave her invaluable, real-world experience.
‘Despite working remotely on this internship, I felt “at home” with my team. I assisted the firm in completing work primarily relating to commercial law, such as researching the duties of an executor under a will, commenting on shareholders agreements, researching legislation relating to statutory interpretation, identifying non-disclosure and non-circumvention agreements and more. I learned a lot and this experience has better prepared me for joining the workforce,’ she adds.
Swinburne’s work-integrated learning promise
This virtual overseas internship program echoes Swinburne’s promise to ensure every student receives a work experience.
‘We are committed to helping students gain the necessary skills and experience to succeed in the workforce. An international work experience is valuable not only in equipping students with the practical or technical skills, but in building their global network, improving their communication skills and giving them a competitive edge as they enter the workforce,’ says Ms Gonzalez.
‘Student feedback from this pilot program has been encouraging and we are already working on further developing this program to make it available for more students this winter,’ she adds.
For more information on the Winter 2021 program offerings, visit the virtual overseas program page.