As we near the halfway mark of the semester and I have become comfortable with my role in my internship, here are some of my takeaways from my international internship experience so far here in Sydney.
Before I even began my first day of work, my company, Ultimate Travel, made me feel like a part of the team. I was invited to their office the week of my arrival to meet my supervisor and the rest of the staff which was a very comforting experience. My first few real days of working involved a lot of one-on-one interaction with my supervisor as I learned all of the different systems and processes for handing new customer orders among other tasks. Everyone in the office was very friendly and helpful during my “training period,” and still are more than willing to help me today. The relationships in the office are great as there is not a defined hierarchical power structure, so my interactions with other customer service employees and the general manager are pretty much the same.
One aspect of the Australian workplace that I was told to expect was a less formal environment than what a typical office would look like back in the U.S. This turned out to be very true for me, as I was given crew tee shirts to wear in the office. Shorts and sneakers are perfectly acceptable in our office, and the interaction between employees is professional yet casual. With the fact that we are a travel company, there is a lot of personal interaction with customers and business partners. Some of my daily tasks include responding to customer emails, answering phone calls, and processing mail that arrives for our customers who are currently traveling.
Within my first two weeks, I was invited on a company cocktail cruise around Sydney Harbour to thank the partnering companies that we work with. This was something I definitely did not expect to be invited to, especially as an intern that did not even have 40 hours of work under my belt but is a great example of the differences between an Australian office and an American one. Many of my friends in internships have had similar experiences within their internships as well, such as being invited out for drinks on a Thursday or Friday after work, or tagging along to company conferences and meetings outside of their offices.
My transition from an American mindset about the workplace to an Australian one definitely took some time and adjustment. However, I think if you decide to complete an internship here in Sydney, you will find the relaxed atmosphere and friendly people to be one of the best parts of your experience.