Challenging ideas

Yes, Australia’s the greatest country on the planet, and our way of doing things is super awesome. But, while you are on international internship you might want to keep quiet about that.

Your views and understanding come as a direct result of the way you have been raised in this country.

There are many different ways of looking at the work and understanding it.

There is a danger in a single story, as novelist Chimamanda Adichie explains in this Ted video:

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html

 

Relationships (outside work)

Be sensitive to local habits and protocols when going out, especially with workmates.

You need to make sure your internship is a positive experience in every way so relax, but not too much!

Everyone loves the idea of a holiday romance, but an international internship is no vacation.

It is great if you meet the love of your life in another country, but beware the local traditions and cultures, as well being perceived as an easy target by people with a questionable agenda.

Time

Ever heard the expression “island time”?

It is a reference to people in some cultures having a different relationship to time. It is neither right nor wrong, but it can be frustrating if you are trying to work to a deadline.

And while some cultures have a flexible attitude to time, others consider you late if you are not early.

The life of a communications professional is meant to be one of waiting on others.

Whatever country you are interning in, make sure you respect the local relationship to time. There’s no point getting all angry – relax, and go with it.

Photo via VisualHunt.com

Dress code

People working in the communications field are generally required to be ‘smart casual’ in their dress. It is a good idea to mirror those working around you.

Take care to dress fairly conservatively and sensibly on your first day. It is always easier to take off a jacket and tie, or tone down the make-up and the heels, rather than turn up in jeans.

It is always a good idea for women to carry a shawl. This can work for warmth, or for a head cover if necessary.

Supervision

Obviously when you are working in a foreign country no one from your university is going to be able to pop in for a supervisory visit.

You should keep in contact with your course coordinator, and contact them immediately if a problem arises in the workplace.

The workplaces that you are going to tend to be staffed by a lot of expatriates. That means you should have some people in your office that you can talk to if there is a problem.

But if not, jump on the email to home, RMIT staff are always ready and willing to help if they can.

It is really important that when you are working in another country you are proactive with your supervisors.

 

Alcohol

Many Australians love to have a drink, but drinking is not acceptable everywhere.

Some interns have found themselves in trouble for being “drunk”, simply for telling a local colleague that they’d had a “big night”.

While in other countries, it is common to be invited to drinks with the boss into the early hours of the morning.

Remember with drinking: look at how your local colleagues are behaving, and always remember while you are interning overseas you are representing not only yourself, but your university and your country.

Your safety

We encourage you to take your own security seriously. Find accommodation in safe districts, do not expose yourself unnecessarily to harm, and make sure you research the country you are planning to intern in.

RMIT offers students an International SOS service when you have registered your trip.

International SOS (ISOS) is a provider of 24 hour medical and security advice and assistance for medical, security or other emergencies, for all authorised RMIT business travellers, including students.

Travellers should simply call ISOS – reverse charge, from anywhere in the world, for emergency assistance: +61 2 9372 2468. You can call ISOS before you travel to discuss your travel needs, security etc. If you need to make an insurance claim, ISOS can assist in contacting the university insurer.

If you do not register you trip then you are not covered by this importance service.

It is important you research and check the level of risk in the country and region you are interested in going to. It is always a good idea to register your travel with Smart Traveller, as well as ISOS.

If travel to your country of choice is not recommended by Smart Traveller you should consult your Program Coordinator to discuss alternative ways of gaining credit so that you do not suffer any academic penalty.

We also strongly urge students to register with the Australian embassy in the country in which they are interning.

You can find country and region risk level information here:

  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – the Smart Traveller website provides up-to-date information about the risks you might face overseas, helping you to make well-informed decisions about whether, when and where to travel.

Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to contact your course coordinator directly  if you encounter any travel problems while overseas. Your coordinator can contact the Global Mobility Office on your behalf if necessary.

Featured Image: ** RCB ** via VisualHunt / CC BY

Race

Our experience to date is that these are not major issues for interns. Nevertheless, occasions do arise while living and working overseas where they can become so. Talk to as many people with experience of the host country as you can. Do your own research. Be prepared.

Australians who have an Asian background often find they can have advantages, and disadvantages, when interning in Asia.

Cultural awareness

You could enroll in a cross-cultural training elective or a series of classes about a country to increase your knowledge. These could be face to face classes or even online courses with external providers. Try to talk to friends, other students and University staff who have been, or are originally from, your target country. They can give you some valuable insights from their own lived experience.