International students face many hurdles to be able to study here in Australia; from the extensive process of organising a visa, to paying the large university fees, and even the restricted amount of hours that students are allowed to work during the week. All of these struggles are minor compared to the struggle of trying to gain an internship as an international student. Most companies will only take on Australian citizen students, making it next to impossible to even get a foot in the door.
We spoke to VeAng, a third year UNSW media student from China about his interning experiences in Australia. VeAng told us that “I have been really struggling to gain an internship in Sydney because I’m from China and they only take on local students. I’ve been lucky enough to do an unpaid internship at one Chinese media agency in Sydney, but unfortunately, this won’t set me apart when I go back to China after graduation. In China, they really value Australian experience, but only interning at an exclusively Chinese organisation really won’t help me in the long run.”
The reason why international students come to Australia to study is to make them stand out when they go back to their home country. The internship structures offered by Australian media agencies are non-inclusive, whereby these international students can’t choose, they can only be chosen. Internship exploitation in Australia goes well beyond the lack of payment, and we international students are experiencing this first hand.
Written by Miao Wang