It’s pretty safe to say that the average uni student is at a time in their life where travel seems particularly attractive. Whether it’s from the birth of new horizons, the sensation of coming of age, or just a really strong desire to depart from lecture life for a while, you might be considering taking some time to go overseas.
However as the aforementioned uni student you might find it hard to just drop everything and rocket off, especially if you’ve got a placement or internship coming up in your degree. But what if I told you there were ways to feed that travel bug without a finance famine or starving your studies? To this end, here are a few reasons why an overseas placement or internship can help you get jet-set without putting uni in jeopardy.
Get Credit for Doing Something Awesome
So what is an overseas internship or placement? Well, as the name might suggest, it’s an internship or placement that you can do overseas. But to put it another way, an international internship or placement can be a way to fulfil your study requirements while checking off some worldliness goals. According to Adam Elhindi, Mobility Officer at UON Global, the University of Newcastle is at work creating programs that provide students with unique experiences in methods that link to their coursework. “Say you’re a Development Studies student and you want to volunteer at something like a game park, they’ve now created a degree called SCIT3600 which allows you to do that while still having it count towards your degree.”
In December 2016, Bachelor of Laws student Sam Cooper completed an eye-opening internship in Cambodia as part of his degree. “For this internship I received full course credit and an extremely valuable learning experience coupled with wonderful company. Overall, it was a deeply emotive experience (that I am still processing in a way) which highlighted the detriment of many Australian and other foreign contributions to Cambodia’s development.”
Be Financially Supported
One of the major benefits of doing an internship or placement overseas is that there are a myriad of grants, scholarships and other support methods to help you fund it, and this is especially true if internship or placement is a necessary part of your degree.
The level of support available to you depends on the length of the trip and how it relates to your degree, which you can explore in more detail here, but the two main methods can be broken up into Global Traveller Grants For Short Term Experiences and the OS-HELP Program. A Global Traveller Grant is a lump sum that may be available to any student undertaking a short-term experience overseas which earns credit towards their degree, whereas an OS-Help loan is for students for whom an internship or placement is a compulsory element of their studies.
The key difference is that OS-HELP comes in the form of a loan which goes directly into your bank account and right onto your HECS, so you won’t need to worry about the funds for such a venture until you’re well on your way to earning. As Adam explains, “The OS-HELP loan is given to you as cash to help you travel, the majority of students take this out and it just means that they don’t have to have the money right now in their bank account to still undertake these overseas experiences.”
There’s notable research to suggest that students who undertake overseas study experiences have a higher employability than their domestically-bound counterparts. The results of the Erasmus Impact Study account that roughly 64% of employers consider international experience to be an important factor in their selection process. And this makes sense: having done a placement or internship overseas can be a standout factor to differentiate you from other applicants, and the unique opportunities the program affords you could in turn offer unique skills. Couple this with now holding an international network of professional contacts, and you’re in pretty good stead. According to Adam, the big item on showcase is adaptability. “The main thing is real world experience, “ Adam explains. “Employers are looking for applicants who are work ready, and by going overseas you’re getting out in the workforce and developing the skills and experience that get you ready for when you graduate.”
So you’ve decided to do an internship or placement overseas through one of UON’s programs, but how do you get started? The first thing on your checklist should be to head over to the UON website and check your eligibility. Next up you can look through popularly offered programs through organisations like CISAustralia, Aim Overseas or Projects Abroad, or find a program through your School or Faculty directly. Following that, complete UON’s handy Pre-Departure Tutorial, after which you should contact your Faculty to finalise your credit agreement.
From there it’s off to the races, or airport as the case may be. Overseas travel can be a great way to figuratively as well as literally broaden your horizons, so it does well to be aware of the opportunities around you.