The increasingly competitive employment market in America has led to tertiary students seeking ways to augment their CVs, with one of the most popular being overseas experience. International Studies Abroad (ISA) is an American organisation with global offices, that helps find internships for American students.
“[Students] go all over the world but Australia is just one of the most popular places to come,” says Dharma Bendersky, Director of Operations, Australia. The Sydney’s ISA office is located in Ultimo because, according to Bendersky, that’s where most of the students find accommodation.
The office acts as an agency, helping students with visas, flights, accommodation and any other issues. It’s a hub where students can drop in and hang out or do some study.
Students begin their Australian experience with a three day orientation in Byron Bay where they’re inducted into the local culture. They learn about language differences, politics, idioms – then they may go sight-seeing and surfing.
From there they go to their host city where they’ll begin an eight week internship with a business aligned with their field of study.
“They’re not just coming here for a holiday, they’re coming because they actually want to learn something,” Bendersky emphasises. The students have paid a lot of money to come here; they are determined and passionate and want to make the experience worthwhile.
Bendersky’s job is equally about finding the right businesses and educating them on how to provide mentorship for interns. It can take a bit of time and resources, but it’s a true value exchange:
“You’re getting very highly enthusiastic and also quite well educated young people who can help you in your organisation as well – they’re getting but they’re also giving.”
Businesses that have taken on ISA students have returned repeatedly for more placements. There are very rarely reports of a negative experience. In fact, students are frequently offered permanent work as a result of their internship. One student was able to continue her digital design role with a start-up company working remotely from her home in the US.
Bendersky is keen to engage businesses in Pyrmont Ultimo.
“Most of our students in Sydney live in Ultimo or on Wattle St … so being able to find work experience for them in the local area would be amazing.”
Virtually all business sectors are eligible, from finance, marketing, communications, digital, social media to veterinary science, food import, supply chain and more.
Businesses that express an interest in offering internship are profiled on a database and matched up with appropriate student. A Skype interview is then arranged between the student and business owner to ensure that their goals and personalities are compatible.
It’s a wonderful opportunity for businesses to gain access to high level skills and knowledge as well as enriching their work place with fresh ideas, new perspectives and youthful enthusiasm.
To find out more contact Dharma Bendersky at ISA:
Suite 90/330 Wattle St, Ultimo
(02) 9280 0447

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