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The State of Internships Models in Australia

University degrees aren’t as valuable as they used to be, by just having one doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to find a job. In fact, research has found that on average it takes a young person 4.7 years to find full-time employment after graduating (The Conversation 2016).

It is now an incredibly competitive job market and so people are beginning to do above and beyond what is needed to just to stand out.

Within Australia, internships are vital for students to gain that experience in which many employers are looking for. However finding the right internship can be difficult as many companies are offering programs that don’t provide you with the opportunity or experience that you need.

The question is, what are these new current internship models, do they actually work and how could they be improved?

Examples of Internship Models

An interesting program which has been designed is the 4Ps model. This model allows employers of all sizes and budgets to offer a valuable working and learning opportunity.

It takes into consideration four main areas; project, place, personal and payment, which come together to create a successful internship. The program cuts across all sectors of the business and provides the employers with a solution for engaging the intern in as many ways as possible to create the greatest opportunity.

http://nationalnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/4Ps-of-Internships-Model.pdf

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Another model is the Company/Industry ‘Broker’ Scheme. This model is usually used by larger corporations as they have the capabilities to have their own HR team or the ability to outsource the recruitment process and provide larger experience for an intern.

This model follows a simple five step process which will provide a well rounded experience for the individual.

https://www.srhe.ac.uk/downloads/events/114_Internship.pdf

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The Self-Generated model follows a very similar process to the Broker model but has some key differences which small and medium sized enterprises can use.

These internships programs are often advertised via social media and networks for young people by young people.

https://www.srhe.ac.uk/downloads/events/114_Internship.pdf

Click image to enlarge

Biggest Issue with Internships in Australia

It has now become a mainstream trend for individuals to complete an unpaid internship before finding full time employment. Research has shown that more than half of young Australians do unpaid work (Sydney Morning Herald 2017).

Companies are beginning to take advantage of these interns by using them as a free source of young talent which could help their business in the future.

The federal government has understood this issue and is beginning to introduce new laws which require stricter rules for companies to follow when providing an internship.

In addition to these new changes, the federal government has started their own internship program to help prevent this problem. Youth Jobs PaTH is a flexible new approach to the youth employment. It has been designed to help support, teach and supply a new world experience which individuals can use to help get and keep a job.

This program follows a three step process; prepare, trial and hire. The program starts by helping prepare and train individuals about the expectations of employers in both the recruitment process and the workplace environment. From there, they will allow you to trial in a workplace for a four to twelve week interval. Lastly, if this is the right field and job to be working in, then the government will give a financial incentive for the company to provide a paid six month employment opportunity.

Internship Programs Already in Place

Work Integrated Learning (WIL)
A program which is working quite well in Perth is the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program conducted by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry WA.

This provides students with a career-building educational experience by facilitating connectivity between the employers, students and universities.

WIL has collaborated with Curtin University to offer this opportunity as an optional course which students can use to get experience in the workforce whilst also still gaining credit towards their degree. The program allows the student to get stuck into real projects which will test their technical knowledge by putting what they have learnt into practice whilst also learning the soft skills you need when entering the workforce.

Upstart Academy
Another program which is providing a strong internship model is Upstart Academy. Although it’s still in its early years, the company has introduced a reinvented internship program which puts a spin on the classic internship model.

They are a digital agency which is run by students for students. Their mission is to provide an opportunity which will allow you to gain the right skill sets and experience to jumpstart your career.

For many small and medium companies, digital marketing is an area where most feel they could improve in. Therefore Upstart Academy gets you in contact with young, tech savvy students, who are passionate about digital marketing and allow them to help with this section of the company. This provides real world experience for the students and also helps the company to improve in its digital marketing.

Our Research

To get a deeper insight into internships and how the youth of Perth feels about them, I interviewed 12 young male and females to hear what they thought about their experiences whilst searching, completing and the outcomes they had.

It was interesting to hear that everyone’s experience was very different. When asked whether they enjoyed the internship or not many replied saying they “loved it!”. They found that the opportunity provided them with some “real world experience which allowed them to apply their knowledge they had learnt at Uni and see how this could be used in a large scale project.”

However, some felt that the experience didn’t “push or challenge their ability” as much as they would’ve hoped. One individual found the company to be “very stale” which put a negative view and overall experience to the job.

Although many were able to get some “hands on experience” some of the people interviewed spent a lot of their days “sitting at a desk waiting to be given a task”. When asked whether these people found this experience to be valuable, a couple of people answered with “I felt the only thing I got out of it was something to put on my resume.”

The people which got the most out of the experience were those who were able to get involved in a team and the company. Many felt they were “welcomed in” and “integrated with other work colleges” which made them feel part of it. They “learnt many soft and hard skills which they wouldn’t normally have learnt while studying” so found the whole experience to be incredibly valuable.

When asked to design the perfect internship it seemed like everyone had a very similar view on what they would love to achieve. Some of the key aspects included being able to have a “flexible experience” so they could juggle it with both their studies and other commitments. Most wanted a “mentor” or someone they could talk to about any questions or guidance they may need. Being able to get “hands on experience” in what it’s like to “work in the industry” whilst also being able to “implement what they had learnt from Uni” would be important. Lastly, being able to make “contacts” within the industry which they could talk to in the future is something which many wanted to gain from the experience.

Let’s Make Internships More Beneficial

Internships shouldn’t be something that we have to provide or that a student has to do before they graduate. They should something we want to do!

An internship can not only help the student by getting prepared and gain experience before entering the workforce, but they should also be a useful technique for a company to use to gain some insight into areas which could use an extra helping hand.

If done properly, an internship can provide a new look into certain areas of the business and provide some knowledge and skill sets which you may not already have in your team.

By implementing the right model for your company, both the employee and the employer can benefit in the long run.

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