If getting some international experience – perhaps through an internship or a global study program – is high on your to-do list, the pandemic may have upended your travel plans.

For some courses like the Bachelor of International Studies, international experience is a key component. For many other courses in a range of disciplines, it’s a highly-valued optional add-on.

But while COVID-19 has temporarily put the brakes on physically going overseas, Deakin has pivoted to offer a huge variety of global opportunities online to meet the demands of our students.

‘The world doesn’t stop moving and the opportunities don’t just dry up because borders have closed,’ says Kirsty Dixon, Manager of Work Integrated Learning in Deakin’s Faculty of Arts and Education. ‘International experiences have developed into a series of online internships, with students connecting with companies around the world, online from home.’

Deakin is also offering online study tours and networking opportunities, giving students the chance to connect with students, professionals and industry overseas.

Of course, Dixon says an online experience can never fully replicate actually being in another country. However it does provide ample opportunity for students to put their skills to the test in a cross-cultural environment and impress future employers.

From Indonesia to India, and beyond

Want to undertake an internship in one of the fastest growing capital cities in southeast Asia, Jakarta?

Deakin can help place you in an exciting four to six week online internship in Indonesia, matching you with an overseas ‘study buddy’ and allowing you to build-real life relationships with your colleagues.

Depending on your study discipline, you could find yourself working anywhere. Our international studies students have had experiences like working with Indonesia Corruption Watch, to AirAsia, BlueScope Steel or helping Cricket Indonesia review its training programs.

Dixon says Deakin also works with a range of other local and international providers, such as the Indian youth-focused agency, Restless Development, where students have helped with tasks such as communication, budget and event planning.

In another case, screen and design students connect with industry professionals in Japan through online workshops, lectures and group work.

Humanities students gain insights into Japan’s distinctive culture through language classes, online field trips and exchanging their favourite local snack foods via mail with their Japanese peers.

Humanitarian Action Team Internship (HATI)

One of Deakin’s most popular online internship options in the Faculty of Arts and Education is a program known as HATI.

‘It’s all about teams of students working together to respond to a humanitarian crisis. We have a fictional arrangement that’s based on real circumstances,’ Dixon says.

Students must devise a plan to respond to the simulated crisis, which could be anything from a natural disaster to political unrest. Guest speakers and workshops support students to consider a range of humanitarian issues and response methods.

‘It’s a really interesting simulation, largely made up of our international studies and our arts students.’

Hands-on experience

Deakin’s Faculty of Business and Law has also pivoted to a virtual format, giving students the opportunity to undertake an International Consultancy Experience online.

Nicolas Tranquille, the Faculty’s Coordinator of International Partnerships, says while the study experience might be online, students apply their knowledge in the real world.

In a recent program, Deakin students were paired with a small business jewellery business in the UK to create a long-term social media strategy.

In another case, students worked with an environmental not-for-profit organisation in Argentina to encourage young people to plant trees.

‘So that would start with educating them about planting trees or having plants that are endemic to the location,’ Tranquille says. ‘They had to do a marketing plan on how they would pitch that strategy to that generation.’

Opening up international experiences

Tranquille says the beefing up of online internships has proven particularly popular with students who may not otherwise been able to participate – perhaps because of young children, work commitments or a lack of funds.

One student based in South Australia, with young kids but a lack of childcare support, was able to participate in an online internship with an organisation based in Fiji, working on a healthcare response plan.

Benefits for participants

From using online communication tools to overcoming potential barriers, the benefits of an online internship are many.

‘They’ve learned skills such as communication, leadership, intercultural awareness, managing their time, being able to critically think and problem solve.’

Impressing future employers

Dixon says getting online international experience is all about showing you are ‘resilient and adaptable to the changing world’.

‘When students are applying for graduate roles, if they can show to an employer during the pandemic they completed an online internship with an international organisation, or online international experience, that is a really compelling story.’

And of course there’s nothing to stop you keeping in touch with your new overseas workmates, and continuing to brush up on your language skills so you can visit in person the second borders allow.

Get valuable international experience without leaving the country.