Considering doing an internship? Arts students reveal why you should

Three of our students explain why they chose to participate in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and reveal what they have learnt along the way.

Student: Zoe Chaloner

Organisation: ATMA: Accelerator for Education NGOs and Social Enterprises, Mumbai

Course: Bachelor of Arts

What made you decide to do a WIL placement subject? 

I decided to do placement as a subject to gain experience and build confidence in a professional setting. Furthermore, to have a better understanding of the field I would like to eventually go into.

How does your role as an intern contribute to ATMA?

At ATMA, I assist in whatever projects the partners require completing within the quarter. I aid in research and helping develop and structure materials that partners require to accelerate their organisation. My role involves liaising with partners, research, creating standard operating procedures, aiding in marketing campaigns for crowdfunding, creating social media calendars as well as other tasks involved with human resources.

A typical day involves working on projects that partners require completed before a deadline. I typically am working on 3-4 projects at a time, where I will be researching, creating documents, whilst continually checking in with partners. At least two days a week I will visit a partner’s office to ensure the lines of communication are kept open and positive.

What have you found challenging or surprising about your internship? 

Whilst I do have contact and communication with my supervisor, I am surprised at how independently I have had to work throughout my internship. I have had to lead a lot of the projects I am taking on with partners independently.

What are the most important things that you have learnt?

The most meaningful aspect of my placement is the connections and networking I have been able to do during my placement so far. I feel this has been most worthwhile because I have been able to gain new perspectives and exchange information of challenges and positives within the field.

I have learnt from a cultural aspect that within an organisation it is always important to have purpose and be appreciative of one another. It is important to always check in with each other as a team and as an organisation for each other’s wellbeing but also to revel in both successes and failures.

My internship has made me confident that I can step into not only a professional setting but the international development field as a whole. I have realised I am not only capable of the tasks given to me but enjoying the end result.

What advice would you give to other WIL offshore students?

My advice to any student doing an offshore WIL placement would be to challenge yourself and to always find positives in the tasks that are set for you. If you are struggling, your supervisor and those around you are always willing to help. Overall, just enjoy the experience, make connections and learn about yourself.

Student: I Ketut Purba Widnyana

Organisation: Edge Effect

Course: Master of International Development Practice (MIDP)

What made you decide to do a WIL placement subject? 

As a MIDP student who does not have prior experience in international development, an internship is the logical path to get hands-on experience in development work. The experience I had in class exposed me to theories and philosophical aspects of international development, while my internship exposes me to the work of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or civil society organisation (CSO) in a professional environment setting.

How are you finding your placement so far? 

It is amazing! I have learnt a lot from Edge Effect. They keep the door open and allow me to ask and seek for help whenever I need it. One thing I really appreciate from them is when they correct me directly in a non-judgmental manner due to my limited English language skills. As an international student, English language is still one of the main issues.

This internship has been really helpful and meaningful for me regarding my knowledge of SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics) issues in humanitarian actions. My knowledge of SOGIESC was only on the surface; now, I am more confident with it.

What tasks do you complete as an intern? 

I have two tasks which I need more than 144 hours to complete. First is to develop a marking tool which later could be used to help humanitarian organisations evaluate how inclusive they, or their projects, are. I have done the initial part of the project, which is desktop research and a conclusive report of the existing tools. The second task is to help Edge Effect with their Content Hub by compiling best practice/evidence of the importance of diverse SOGIESC inclusion in humanitarian practice and research focusing on Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP) Asia/Pacific countries. The result of the compilation is making a 1700-word blog which I have completed.

What does a typical day in your role look like?

I work from 9am until 5pm, Monday to Wednesday. I start my day by working on the Content Hub until lunchtime. Often I have my lunch in the office, socialising with my colleagues. If not, I have lunch at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market which is only two stops on the tram. When I get back, I will make a cup of coffee to get myself energised and focus on developing the marking tool. We also have a biweekly check-in on Tuesday via Skype. This is our time to be connected with other Edge Effect staff living outside of Melbourne.

What advice would you give to a student doing WIL?

If you know that you are going to do an internship, do not wait until the internship application is open. Start looking for organisations/companies that you want to learn from. Learn what work they do, and match it with your passion. Start contacting them and let them know that you are interested in doing an internship with them, and express what specific skill you want to learn from them. Starting early is important because the process of the application could take months.

Student: Lauren Lowe

Organisation: The Shrine of Remembrance

Course: ATS3935 as part of a BA in History and Genocide Studies

What made you decide to do a WIL placement subject? 

It is a great way to utilise the long summer break. Not only does it allow you to keep the habit of studying, but it also lightens your study load during the semester. This is the second WIL placement subject I have taken, and it is such a great way to meet people who can help guide you and offer advice on the industry.

I found my placement by considering what industry I wanted to explore. Being a History major, I decided that a museum atmosphere would be a really great insight into deciding a postgraduate course. As I often look abroad for my degree, I chose to explore Australia’s history and turned to the Shrine of Remembrance.

What was your role at the Shrine of Remembrance?

My role was to conduct the preliminary research for an exhibition on LGBTQI+ experiences in Australia’s war history. My days were spent in the office working on my own or with others, in the library, or at archives (National Archives of Australia and Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives). I also assisted in the Condition Reports for relics on loan from the Australian War Museum.

How did you enjoy your internship?

The internship was great! Everyone who works there is so accommodating, knowledgeable and friendly. I have learnt so much beyond my ascribed task, about things I would never have known existed!

It is easy to feel comfortable working at the Shrine, as it is a very supportive and open environment. It was really beneficial being able to see the internal workings of a museum, and meeting everyone in the team and learning about their different roles.

What are the most important things that you learnt from your internship?

I really enjoyed being able to focus on a topic and explore it far more in-depth than a University semester allows. I felt that I was able to learn new ways of researching and became more efficient at sourcing information.

What is the most meaningful aspect of your internship?

I really enjoyed the work and skills that I developed while I was there. However, I think the most meaningful aspect was being able to talk to everyone about their area of focus and learning directly from them. Being able to physically see relics and have someone share their expertise was invaluable.

How has this internship contributed to your understanding of your career goals/path? 

It has taught me the inner workings of a museum and has reaffirmed the importance of history to me. I think it is important to step outside of the university sphere and explore your degree through other avenues.

What advice would you give to a student doing WIL? 

Talk to people! Speak to as many people as you can. Everyone has their own wealth of information and are happy to share this with you.