As the Director of Innovation, Industry and Employability and Acting Associate Dean at Torrens University Australia (TUA) I personally know a lot of fantastic students who have come to study with us from abroad. Sometimes these students can be hesitant to join our Internship Program because English is not their native language.
This is particularly the case when it comes to an internship in marketing or social media content development, roles which involve a lot of writing.
If English isn’t your first language, you may think that it’s going to be impossible to complete an internship and get work in this area in Australia. After all, you have so many native speakers to compete with.
The good news is that not only is it possible, you can even get help making it happen. TUA offers a lot of incredible support services for international students, and I urge all my students to take advantage of these during their time with us.
One enterprising MBA student who has taken full advantage of these services is Carolina Cruz.
Carolina Cruz moved with her husband to the small city of Adelaide, Australia, two years ago from Colombia in South America.
“We wanted to improve our English, change our routine in Colombia and I wanted to study an MBA. Living in Adelaide gives you the option to go to many different places and you do not spend time driving or spending too much money.
Now, I often like to go to Morialta Park and Cleland Conservation Park. You can enjoy the view while hiking, see wild animals, connect to nature and not think about anything else. I could not enjoy this activity in Colombia as much as I wanted because I was living in Bogota. Bogota is a big city so to go hiking you have to go outside of the city, and it takes time.”
Carolina had previously studied marketing and advertising back home, and was already pursuing a career in Bogota.
However, after a few years working in the industry, she discovered that she really wanted to learn something new and challenge herself.
“During the time that I was working in Colombia, I realised that I wanted to learn more about leadership, management and business. I decided to do an MBA because it would provide me with essential knowledge – and as a result, I would grow in my professional development and find better opportunities in life.
Project Management was new for me, but I have learnt so many things from PM that I am using even in my daily life.”
Carolina began studying a dual MBA and Master of Global Project Management with us at Torrens University in 2018. She’s met a lot of other students here from all over the world who, like her, decided to come to Australia to develop their English and their careers.
The last two years have been a huge journey for her. It hasn’t always been easy to study in a new country, but she’s kept going and she is now in her final trimester. Along the way, she has even discovered a new passion in life that’s changed her entire career direction.
“I have had ups and downs during my studies, but the last two trimesters have been a challenge for me because of online classes and all the situations around the world.
I have also found one passion in Australia, and that is how important it is for me to have contact with nature – walking in nature parks, or even parks inside of Adelaide.”
Earlier in the year, Carolina decided it was the right time for her to participate in the internship program.
MBA students at TUA are required to complete a work placement or an internship as part of their studies, ensuring they gain essential Australian industry experience.
Students are recommended for placements with organisations across the broad network of TUA industry contacts. They receive help throughout the application process from their own personal Success Coach. These internships can be paid or voluntary depending on what’s available, and often lead to paid work on graduation.
“I had a meeting with the Success Coach to update my resume, and we discussed that I wanted to do an internship, because it allows you to get involved inside of an organisation and understand its process and teamwork.
Mustafa Kadir, who is an Industry Consultant from Torrens University, talked to me about an opportunity and a company who was looking for someone who had experience with marketing and communications.
It was an opportunity that the university offered me because of their relationship with the company.”
The company didn’t overlook Carolina for the position because she is from Colombia, and English is not her native language. They knew that Mustafa Kadir would only recommend a student he knew would be capable of doing the job.
They were more concerned with what kind of industry experience she could bring to her role.
“I sent my resume updates to Mustafa, and he gave me some tips regarding my LinkedIn that I needed to update as well.
After that, I had an interview with the CEO of the company and talked about my experiences, my current situation, and my goals for the future.
After the meeting, I did an assessment related to one case study from the company, where I needed to send an invitation and explain how I would run an event.”
The company was impressed by Carolina and how she responded to the questions and challenges they set for her. So, they decided to take her on, shortly after the final assessment.
Carolina’s new position would be as a Marketing Intern, focused on copywriting activities.
“My role was focused on social media, emails, and different communications that the company has. It was challenging for me because it was my first work experience in Australia that was not in hospitality, so I wanted to provide new ideas and use the knowledge that I have.”
Of course, as a non-native speaker in an English copywriting role, Carolina certainly experienced challenges.
“It was a challenge for me to think, communicate and express my opinion in English all the time, but people explain things to you and correct you if you need it. Also, it helped me that I was studying. I need to read and write in English at university, so that became easy at work after the second week.”
Happily, Carolina also discovered that working for an Australian company is not actually that different to working for the companies that she had worked for in Colombia.
In fact, the biggest challenge she faced was overcoming her own fears.
“Australia and Colombia have processes and rules that you must meet: be on time, take 30 minutes for lunch, send your task to your boss to check or add any comments before uploading or sending to the customers.
It was not a shock for me because I was working before, so I understand that you need to follow a process and deliver your tasks.
The biggest challenge for me was trying to express myself and lose the fear of making a mistake. Native English speakers made mistakes we can make as well. As soon as I gained confidence, I started to see everything differently and contribute to the company with my ideas and work.”
Carolina successfully completed her internship, and has learned a lot from the experience as well as gaining some valuable industry contacts.
“It was a small company, so I realised the equality that some Australian companies have. The company uses ‘transversal organisation management,’ so I was sitting next to the CEO and CFO, and everyone could provide ideas and work as a team.
When I was working in Colombia, the company used bureaucratic management where you must follow the process and the organisational chart if you want to provide new ideas.”
If you happen to be a business or marketing student who wants to do an internship, but you’re not sure if you can or should – Carolina has this advice for you.
“If you have the opportunity, you should try to do it. I know we need money to survive, but you could do an internship when you could go just one or two days per week. You would meet new people, have more responsibilities, and propose new ideas or processes that the company might implement.”
Carolina is almost at the end of her two-year master program. So, what’s next for her, and where does she see herself going next, in her life and in her career?
“I am looking forward to coming back to the labour market and using the knowledge and experiences that I have gotten from Torrens University.
My dream job is a place where I could contribute ideas and participate in a calm, healthy environment, and good vibes.
I like the retail industry and recently, I like the companies that have implemented sustainability practices within the company. As a result, I will look for work in my speciality but also work where it is positive for the community and nature.”
The passion for nature that Carolina discovered in the wild Australian bush has now become central to her future career. In my experience, sometimes the most important outcomes of our decisions are the ones we never even intended.
I wish you all the best in your career, Carolina, and I have every confidence that you’ll go on to do some fantastic ‘work for good’ in the spirit of TUA.
Justin Pierce, Director of Innovation, Industry and Employability and Acting Associate Dean, Postgraduate, at Torrens University Australia (TUA)
See here for more information about the internship program at TUA, and here for more information about the dual Master of Business Administration and Master of Global Project Management, or other business courses on offer.
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