Reflecting on My Internship in Sydney

This semester, I interned at the 25fifteen Startup Studio located in the neighborhood of Darlinghurst, Sydney.  Prior to my arrival, I had the opportunity to have a Skype call with my advisor, Kim.  I was not sure what to expect in this “interview,” but it got off to a rather awkward start because of the way I dressed.  Figuring I’d want to give a good impression, I wore a shirt and tie for the call…but as soon as we started speaking Kim made it clear that the dress code was pretty much nonexistent at the office–people wear whatever they want. Safe to say I felt like a fool! Nonetheless, this can serve as a good lesson for future students pursuing international internships.  Before your first meeting, try to get an idea about the nature of the business and work dress culture and from there do your best to dress accordingly.

25fifteen is an office space of three new tech businesses in Sydney and assists them with developing customer acquisition strategies, advertising, and general growth and development.  I mainly assisted a new business called Wildcard, which is a mobile application that serves as a unique savings and budgeting account–currently being targeted towards millennials in Australia.  Throughout my time there, I helped provide critical feedback on their new app betas, conducted various marketing research, and collaborated on future ideas and promotion initiatives.

The amount of people in the office varied form day-to-day, but there were no more than ten employees in the office at once.  Everyone was super friendly and laid back, which made it easy for me to adjust to the environment.  Where I had some difficulty was finding meaningful work to do on a daily basis.  Considering these startups are new and still being introduced, there was not always a clear-cut task for me to do everyday.  I realized that to thrive in a startup, it is important to maintain constant communication with the company founders.  There are many aspects that can change on a weekly or even daily basis so having continuous conversation is key to staying in the loop.  Often times my colleagues were very wrapped up in their own research, so at times I found it hard to ask if there was anything that I could do.  My supervisor oversaw the whole operation, but also had his own work that was not always related to 25fifteen.  However, he taught me a lot about marketing analytics, the tech scene, and provided me with advice that I can apply to my future career.  I admired the way he managed the space because of his calm demeanor–I never saw him the slightest bit angry or stressed out.  He made it easy for me to have a conversation with him, even if it was not work-related.

To offer some more advice for future students, I would most definitely recommend pursuing an internship abroad.  Not only is it a unique way to earn school credit, but you will boost your overall global perspective and give insight on the work culture of your host country.   While your program hosts will probably brief you on the general workplace environment if the city, keep in mind that these are not universal.  In 2018, you may find yourself in a traditional, structured office, but there is a good chance you will be placed in a more contemporary environment so the typical work norms may not necessarily apply for your internship.