Finding Internships and Work Experience for Business & Economics Students
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Finding Internships and Work Experience for Business & Economics Students

Hello, I’m Dilani Rasanayagam. I’m a Careers
Consultant at Careers & Employment and the University of Melbourne, and I’d like to talk
about internships and work experience opportunities for Commerce students.
An Internship is an opportunity to practice and develop your professional skills under
supervision in the workplace, and often includes a development and training component. Now,
these are more formal, structured work experience opportunities and internships is a term that’s
often used to cover programs such as vacation work, cooperative placements, cadetships.
Vacation employment is often undertaken in your penultimate or second last year of your
study, either in your summer or winter break, and can often lead to graduate employment.
Cadetships on the other hand, are offered to students whilst you’re still studying and
can be full time or part time in nature. The’yre formal or informal, depends on the employer.
Whereas Co-operative placement programs otherwise known as Industry Based Learning is often
full time work experience, typically undertaken in your final year of study and could last
anywhere from six months to one year. Remember, to look also beyond the formal advertise programs.
So look for volunteering employment opportunities, university internship subjects, as well as
capstone subjects. And don’t forget, participation in your relevant student clubs and societies
also develops your employability skills and demonstrates your interest in a particular
career pathway. When I go to the Careers & Employment website
and click on ‘Students’, the screenshot on the right shows the ‘Find a Job’ page, in
the top left-hand corner. This takes you to our jobs database. On the left, you can see
the jobs listed in a variety of ways; Casual and Part-time Employment, Private Tutoring,
Jobs on Campus, Voluntary Work, Internships and Work Experience. All of these are work
experience opportunities. Employers advertise in a variety of ways throughout
the year, so you need to check a range of sources. Internships which are advertised
are highly competitive with very formal application procedures. Most employers advertise through
the University’s jobs board, Careers Online. This is a good source to consult at any time
of year. Also check out Graduate Opportunities. Here I’m going to look for undergrad employment
opportunities by clicking on ‘Your Career’, ‘Starting your career’, ‘Graduate programs’,
and then I can see ‘Volunteering’ and ‘Undergraduate Programs’. This takes you to a page which
talks about work experience options, including cadetships, co-operative programs, internships,
scholarships, and vacation work, and goes on to explain the benefits of undertaking
these employment opportunities. You can also find employment opportunities
through checking out major job search sites, such as, and also going directly
to employer websites as they often advertise work experience opportunities. Now, competition
in high profile organisations can be intense as successful completion of work placements
often leads to a graduate position. Don’t forget our Careers Fairs, held in March and
August each year, and other on-campus employer events. Click on ‘Events’ on our website to
check these out. Lastly, look at the professional Association websites, as these are a great
way to uncover work experience opportunities. Careers & Employment has developed a PDF to
help you find a Professional Association for your career path. Click on ‘Careers & Employments
>Students>Online Career Tools>Exploring your options’ and scroll down to ‘Professional
Association by degree’. Open this up and you can see an alphabetical listing under faculty.
Click on ‘Business & Economics’ and this opens up the Professional Associations for Business
and Economics. Scroll down, for example, to ‘Marketing’ and the Australian Marketing Institute.
Let’s have a look and see what they offer members. So, we want to know what you get
in terms of value for money as a member of the AMI. Workshops, events – what sort of
events? Conferences? Webinars? Mentoring Program? And something called Emerging Marketers. Let’s
look at that. So click on ‘Victoria’ and see what you get. So Emerging Marketers is to
help marketing students and young professionals launch successful careers. What are the benefits?
A mentoring program, exclusive events and seminars, unlimited networking opportunities,
and here we go; internships. Don’t forget there are paid internships for
a student with a disability. The Australian Network on Disability offers the ‘Stepping
into’ program. Look at the website if this applies to you.
Employers want certain skills. You can develop these skills through various activities including;
the faculty of Business & Economics professional development program, university Work Experience
Subject, and Student organisations such as Enactus, which is one of many. Some of these
skills include communication, teamwork, leadership, problem solving, flexibility, self-confidence,
organisational, initiative and motivational skills. These skills are transferrable. Let’s
look at what the faculty offers. The skills you develop from participating
in one or more activities offered by the faculty and the wider university will truly benefit
you. Let’s look at the faculty’s professional enhancement programs. We can see under ‘Career
Building’ the ‘Career Mentoring Program’, which is a new initiative open to undergrad
students in the faculty of Business & Economics. It is based on competitive online processes
and it runs on yearly cycle from March to November. There are also Case Study Competitions,
which allow you to work in a team to solve real business problems under tight timelines,
and present your recommendations to a panel of judges, comprising of academics and business
professionals. The faculty offer two Case Study Competitions, the international one
and a campus based Case Study Competition. If you’re interested in a career in Consulting,
consider the Management Consulting or Global Management Consulting third year capstone
subjects, or the International Accounting study program. And finally, let’s look at
leadership. It’s very hard to demonstrate leadership to employers, and here we can see
that the faculty offers three separate events that you attend to develop your leadership
skills. Let’s look at the faculty’s upcoming events. We can see here the Future Leaders
Forum on the 8th of August, and the BCOM Case Competition on the 1st of September.
The Community Volunteering for Change subject is an Arts elective. It’s also a breadth subject
for other degrees and it gives you the opportunity to broaden your academic experience by getting
involved in community volunteering projects and work placement.
Enactus is a student non-for-profit organisation which runs projects in conjunction with business
to create positive change in communities. Gain the chance to develop business acumen
and professional skills and understand corporate social responsibility frameworks whilst developing
your networks. A recent survey by the Graduate Careers Australia
noted that the majority of graduates who did paid work in their final year secured jobs
within four months of completion. All part time work is valuable as it develops transferrable
skills, so don’t underestimate what you can learn from casual employment. This can include
hospitality, tutoring, retail, administration, market research and so on. Now, employers
advertise in a variety of ways throughout the year, so you need to check a range of
sources. Careers Online is where most employers advertise
through our university’s jobs board, and the Student Union is a good employment service
as well. The Students @ Work program offers internships through work areas within the
university. For example, Careers and Employment takes on student interns each year and these
are advertise via Careers Online. Don’t just focus on work experience within
Australia, look overseas! Your travel, voluntary work abroad and global study abroad experience
can all add value. However, be aware that there are third parties offering unpaid internships.
Check that they have followed the Fair Work Commission guidelines, in that the unpaid
position should be educational in nature, time-bound and the learning outcomes are set
out in some form of internship guide. There are a number of employment scams, especially
affecting international students, who find it more difficult to find work experience.
There currently isn’t any regulation around these providers, so browse around Whirlpool
to find out what students are saying. Some providers charge thousands of dollars for
unpaid work, others want three months of full-time unpaid work from you and some promote permanency
after the internship. Check that these jobs meet the criteria as set by the Fair Work
Commission. Under the Fair Work Act, you should be paid for work experience unless your work
experience is with a not-for-profit organisation or is part of a subject within your course.
The next few slides contain websites to identify employers and relevant student societies and
internship opportunities both here and overseas. Look at these websites and the others in this
video to research your options. Develop an action plan noting your preferred employers
and how you plan to make contact with them. Investigate your options early so you know
what is available when it is time to apply, which is usually around the middle of your
penultimate year. Sometimes, though, it can be at the start of the year. Look out for
on-campus workshops that will help you prepare a professional application. Seek assistance,
application feedback and personalised tips from your university careers service and understand
the difference between the various types of vacation programs and employment options and
identify which might best work for you.

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