My Golden Internship: Why I Chose to Intern on the Gold Coast
There is so much pressure to graduate with work experience, yet barely any time. From the very first day of college, my professors have stressed the importance of internships. As a student who is involved in leadership positions in Greek life, the Honors College, and a professional organization, I barely have time to sleep, let alone intern. I knew that I wanted to find an internship, but wasn’t sure how to find the time.
I decided early on in my college experience that I was going to study abroad. I figured out that the best way for me to find the time for an internship was to do it while abroad. I hoped to gain a better understanding of the local culture by working in a local company surrounded by natives. I was also excited to intern while abroad because I would have more free time to allocate to my internship than I would have back home. I logged onto IFSA’s website and found it incredibly easy to find programs with internships. I had so many options, and my love for Australian culture pushed me to further explore the programs at Griffith University. I accessed the list of internships online and got to choose from hundreds. A couple weeks before leaving for Australia, I submitted my application and was accepted to my top choice.
Why I chose MCCGC
Since I am a Mass Communication student and had recently taken a Social Media Course, I especially wanted to find a position that focused on social media strategy. I also wanted to work for a nonprofit so that I could volunteer on weekends and use my skillset to help a local community. My IFSA program advisor connected me with Griffith University’s internship director, and I easily found a position that fit exactly what I wanted. I submitted an application, and was accepted by the Multicultural Communities Council of the Gold Coast (MCCGC).
MCCGC was created to assist refugees and international arrivals on the Gold Coast. They have programs for seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals from linguistically-diverse backgrounds. The program director was flexible in allowing me to shape the internship based on my interests. I interned 4-5 hours a week, with more hours on weeks with events. I only took 3 classes outside of my internship, so it was very easy to manage.
I started my internship by researching the organization’s past use of social media and the social media usage of similar organizations in the area. I thoroughly researched how the organization was successfully and less successfully using social media. I then set goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. I devised a three-month calendar to help implement these objectives into the organization’s social media. I then created social media posts highlighting our sponsor partners, and created a paid advertising campaign on Facebook. I also got to help with planning and day-of coordination of MCCGC’s major event, called the International Café. The Gold Coast is made up of one third immigrants, and MCCGC’s event showcased the internationality of the local population.
Many company events included our group of interns, including sports matches and lunches where I got to hear about the experiences of immigrants. I learned about life on the Gold Coast from the views of locals as well as individuals who had recently moved there. They introduced me to local sports and the best food spots. I saw how much locals enjoyed being outdoors and exploring the area on their free time. I added so many places to my bucket list purely based on my colleagues’ stories from their weekends.
What I Gained
Though the social media skills that I practiced will help me in my future career, the most important part of my internship to me ended up being my sense of belonging to the local community. I had an office that expected to see me every week, and the same warm smiles of my coworkers to welcome me to work every day. I had a sense of belonging at MCCGC that I never expected to have while abroad. With every shift, I learned more about the culture and felt even more comfortable with the cultural differences.
My internship experience also helped me to connect with local Australians, as the majority of other Griffith University interns were locals. Along with our internship, our university had us attend workshops to help guide our sense of growth and to compare our experiences. These workshops were taught in smaller groups, so we got to know a lot about our classmates. I loved comparing my experiences to those of local students. The other students worked in retirement homes, schools, and centers for individuals with mental disabilities. They came from family studies, nursing, and other majors. While I had hands-on experiences with those who attended MCCGC, I mainly worked on social media projects.
Interning abroad gave me so much more than I was expecting. I feel so fulfilled knowing that I contributed to a nonprofit on the other side of the world. I know that I formed real relationships in my position and completed essential projects that will outlast my time in Australia. I still get emails from MCCGC, and with every email about an upcoming event or volunteer opportunity, I miss my position even more. I opened my heart to this organization, and it introduced me to so many kind people. As I graduate from my university this semester and look for full-time work, I realize the importance of having such a supportive work culture. It is bittersweet to leave such an amazing organization, and I will always value my time at MCCGC.
Laura Bastings is a student at Towson University and studied abroad with IFSA at Griffith University in the Gold Coast, Australia in 2017.