International students face particular challenges in accessing internship and work experience opportunities. Here are resources, advice, and videos to support international students in securing valuable experience in Australian workplaces.
- How to source volunteer work and work experience while on a study visa
If you hold a valid Australian student visa you can intern up to 40 hours a fortnight while your course is in session (excluding any internship undertaken as a registered component of their course of study or training) and you can intern full time during scheduled course breaks.
As an international student, you'll receive the same protections in the workplace as Australian nationals.
These conditions might be different to what you are used to in your home country, so we recommend that you start by learning more about working in Australia here.
Be aware that:
- Protections at work: The same laws protect you as every other Australian worker.
- Minimum wage: All Australian workers receive a minimum rate per hour regardless of what type of work they do, however not all internships are paid.
- Additional support: As a student worker, you can also get help from the Australian Government and non-government organisations, and your education provider.
- Consider volunteering
As an alternative to an internship or work experience you may want to consider volunteering, to gain local experience. Below you can find links to volunteer opportunities in your state:
- Australian Capital Territory (Canberra, ACT) - Volunteering and Contact ACT
- New South Wales (NSW) - The Centre for Volunteering NSW
- Northern Territory (NT) - Volunteering SA & NT
- Queensland (QLD) - Volunteering Queensland
- South Australia (SA) - Volunteering SA & NT
- Tasmania (TAS) - Volunteering Tasmania
- Victoria (VIC) - Volunteering Victoria
- Western Australia (WA) - Volunteering WA
- Build your understanding of the industry trends influencing the profession in Australia
Engineers Australia is at the forefront of engineering research and policy thought leadership. We produce a range of reports to inform policy development, the industry and our members. Here are some resources to help you build your knowledge:
- Read Engineers Australia’s 2017 insights into the State of the Engineering Profession, which details the changes required to realise this country’s political, social, and economic aspirations.
- Australia sources its engineers from graduates of Australian institutions and skilled migration. The Engineers make things happen report examines the question of engineering workforce supply pipelines in more detail.
- Registration of Engineers: the case for statutory registration explains registration’s value, how it can work in practice, and more.
- Read a report that supports the defence department’s review of mobilisation planning in Industry Responses in a Collapse of Global Governance
- Engineering Responses to Climate Change summarises our major findings and discussions from the Engineering Responses to Climate Change Roundtable, Feb 2020.
- In 2014, Engineers Australia created a policy on sustainability and climate change. You can read about our sustainability policy here and our climate change policy here.
- Engineers Australia believes the future of Australia’s energy supply will depend on a strong engineering workforce. Engineers will play a critical role in the research, development, production, and implementation of energy efficiency measures and emerging technology options, providing reliable energy to Australian consumers and meeting Australia’s emission reduction targets. Read the report: The Future of Australian Electricity Generation
How to prepare for an internship
- How to prepare
It’s vital everyone involved has a good understanding of the internship’s purpose—including you, the organisation, and your university. Preparation before starting is critical.
Before you begin an and internship:
- Ask whether there’s a written agreement you can review and sign.
- Ensure you’re aware of:
- Your position description and duties
- Your location for work and whether you’re required to travel
- Relevant staff contact details such as your supervisor and HR
- Your internship start and end date, including the hours the company expects you to complete and whether there’s a probation period
- If it’s a paid position and, if so, remuneration (including any overtime arrangements)
- How the organisation will monitor your performance
- Relevant organisational policies governing behaviour and dress codes
- The procedure for termination of the agreement.
- Decide what you want to achieve from the internship.
- Get details of any milestone checkpoints throughout the internship to ensure you’re meeting goals—yours and the organisations.
- Ask whether you’ll get access to any required equipment for example workspace, computer and programs information.
- Ensure you’re aware of any relevant policies such behaviour and WH&S, dress codes, and parking options.
- Research the Fair Work Act 2009 for questions relating to legal requirements.
- Check whether your university requires your supervisor to be a professional engineer.
The Stage 2 Competency Standards outline the profession’s required knowledge and skill base, engineering application abilities, professional skills, values, and attitudes you must demonstrate to practise independently or unsupervised. They give you a good grounding in what learning areas you should cover during your work placement.
- Tips and tricks for a successful internship
- When you start your internship: Meet with your supervisor to determine their expectations and whether you can be involved in setting goals.
- Watch and ask questions. Connect with your co-workers to learn as much as you can.
- Stay professional. Be professional and courteous at all times and make sure you understand and follow workplace procedures.
- Be enthusiastic. If your workload is low, speak with your supervisor about getting involved in other tasks.
- Get involved. Take advantage of as many opportunities for practical experience outside the office you can.
International students share their experiences and advice for finding an internship: