How to get an internship in Australia?

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Prodigy Finance - February, 20 2024

9 min read

About the author

At Prodigy Finance, we're committed to helping international talent to achieve their education dreams. We offer international student loans to qualified individuals attending top master's programmes in the US.

Experiencing an internship in Australia is a great idea for international students, like yourself, as they offer a pathway to practical learning, skill development, the chance to apply theoretical knowledge to real-life situations and enhanced employability.

Gaining hands-on experience in your field of study is a valuable investment in your future career success as it provides you with insights into industry trends, challenges, innovations, and keeps you informed and adaptable in a rapidly evolving professional world.

Understanding the Australian internship market

The first step to applying for an internship in Australia is to decide where you want to go and what industry you’d like to work in. Australia has a diverse range of industries, including finance, technology, agriculture, and arts, just to name a few.

Australia is a large country, so it pays to research the different cities and regions to help decide which area suits your needs and interests. Here’s a brief breakdown of potential opportunities in some of the main cities:


Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is situated on the coast near the foothills of the low-lying Mount Lofty Ranges. There’re a wealth of internships available in hospitality and tourism, as more than 50% of Australia’s wine is produced here. There’s potential to gain skills in managing cultural festivals, assisting operations of restaurants, and providing business development opportunities for hotels, resorts. There are also many internships available in engineering, especially in design.


Situated on the Swan River and the Indian Ocean, Perth, the capital of Western Australia (and the largest city on the western coast) is a hub for businesses, performing arts, and marine life, so you’ll have your pick of the lot when it comes to internships in Australia here. Additionally, the Ningaloo Reef in Perth, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is popular with marine science internships helping with research and conservation because of its wealth of whale sharks and manta rays.


The “Adventure Capital” of Australia, Cairn, is located in Queensland near the Great Barrier Reef. If you’re looking for hospitality internships in Australia, you’ll find plenty here thanks to its numerous tourists. Internships in art galleries and museums are quite popular too.

The city also boasts lots of natural landscapes from rainforests to coral reefs, so you’re sure to land a science internship here, if that’s your interest! What makes Cairns special is its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, appealing for those seeking internships in environmental studies, marine science, and zoology and wildlife science.


Immerse yourself in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, with its distinctive architecture, sunny beaches, waterways, and numerous recreational activities.

Known as the “World’s Best Downtown,” Australia’s third most populous city offers plenty of opportunities to grow in hospitality with Brisbane being a top international destination in the world. Many internships are available in four or five-star hotels or high-end restaurants. In addition, many wildlife centres and sanctuaries in Brisbane also need animal science interns to help rehabilitate the local species.


With a high quality of living and a dynamic business environment, Melbourne is a popular place for an internship. Here there are plenty of environmental and ecology internships available, especially in sustainable development and urban planning. It’s also home to many sporting events, and boasts of popular internships available in exercise science and sports management, as Melbourne is home to rugby and football teams.

Melbourne boasts loads of start-up companies where you’ll gain valuable skills in entrepreneurship and networking, especially in marketing, business, software development, and more.


With a strong market economy from business and finance to tourism and performing arts, Sydney offers a variety of internships from music, hospitality to even radio, broadcasting and media internships. The numerous radio and broadcasting stations make it a popular place to gain experience in the media industry and the Sydney Morning Herald and The Bulletin are popular headquarters to gain strong skills in writing for newspapers and magazines as well.

Eligibility criteria for international students

Visa requirements

While there’s no specific Australian internship visa, Australia has a wide range of visas. The visa you'll need to intern in Australia will depend on several factors, including the length of your stay, the kind of work you'll be doing, and whether you're a student or not.

Check out our latest article on visa requirements for international students in Australia.

Other requirements for interning in Australia

Some of the other key requirements needed to intern in Australia include:

  • Age: you need to be 18 years or older
  • Student status: some visas require you to have been enrolled in a course of study or have graduated within the last 24 months
  • Valid passport: you’ll need a valid passport, valid for at least six months beyond the length of your intended stay, to enter and work in Australia
  • Health insurance: you’ll need to purchase health insurance before entering Australia
  • English proficiency: most internships in Australia require a high level of English proficiency

Finding internship opportunities

Check with specific companies or internship programs for opportunities in your desired field, and use online resources like university career assistance, job boards, company websites to identify potential employers.

Don’t forget about making use of your alumni networks and the professional associations in your field of study - it’s often not what you know that gets you in the door, but who you know!

It’s also a good idea to reach out to your university or college's career centre for guidance and advice.

Application process

Tailoring your resume and cover letter for the Australian job market is essential to effectively communicate your skills and experiences. Here are some tips on how to tailor these documents:

Resume tailoring:

  • Format: in Australia, it's common to include personal details (name, contact information), a brief personal statement, work experience, education, skills, and references (optional)
    Personal statement:** include a personal statement at the beginning, summarising your career goals and key skills
  • Australian style: align your resume with the Australian style, which typically focuses on achievements and outcomes rather than just responsibilities. It’s a good idea to use bullet points to make information easy to read
  • Education details: list your education details, including the name of the institution, degree earned, and graduation date as well as any Australian qualifications or certifications you may have
  • Relevant experience: prioritise and emphasise experiences relevant to the job you're applying for by using keywords from the job description to highlight your compatibility to the role
  • Quantify achievements: make sure to quantify your achievements wherever possible by specifying the difference you made e.g. you "increased efficiency by 20% through process optimization."
    Include volunteer work: Australians value community involvement, so remember to include any volunteer work you may have been involved in
  • Highlight soft skills: skills such as ‘teamwork’, ‘communication’, and ‘adaptability’ are all traits highly valued in the Australian workplace, so it's a good idea to include these details

Cover letter tailoring

  • Address the hiring manager(ess): whenever possible, address the cover letter to the hiring manager(ess) or recruiter by name
  • Introduction: begin with a concise introduction stating the position you're applying for and how you learned about the job and why it interests you
  • Skills alignment: align your skills and experiences with the requirements of the job, using examples to explain how past achievements make you a suitable candidate
    Research the company:** showcase your knowledge of the company and explain why you’d be a good fit
  • Cultural fit: emphasise your cultural fit with the Australian workplace, highlighting your adaptability, collaboration, and ability to work well within diverse teams
    Achievements and impact:
    share specific achievements from your previous roles and the positive impact you made
  • Closing statement: end your cover letter with a strong closing statement, enthusiastically thank them for the opportunity to apply and express your desire for an interview
  • Professional tone: maintain a professional and positive tone throughout your cover letter and avoid using jargon
  • Proofread: check through your cover letter to make sure it has no errors
    Remember, the key is to demonstrate not only your qualifications but also your cultural fit and understanding of the Australian workplace. By tailoring your resume and cover letter for each application, it increases your chances of standing out in the competitive job market.

Preparing for interviews

Australians value authenticity, so be yourself, showcase your personality and stay professional. Common interview formats include virtual interviews (conducted via Zoom or Skype), in-person interviews and lastly, assessment centres. The latter tend to ask you to participate in various activities and exercises, assessing your teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.

Cultural nuances

  • Informality: Australian interviews are often more informal so while professionalism is crucial, being friendly and approachable is generally appreciated.
  • Direct communication: be concise in your responses and talk clearly.
    Sense of humour:** while it’s essential to gauge the context, don’t hesitate to show a sense of humour when appropriate.
  • Team focus: emphasise your ability to work well in a team as Australian workplaces value collaboration and a positive team spirit.
  • Work-life balance: Demonstrating a commitment to a healthy work-life balance is important.

Typical interview questions and responses

Tell me about yourself
Effective response: provide a brief overview of your professional background, highlighting key achievements and experiences relevant to the role.

Why should we hire you?
Effective response: align your skills and experiences with the job requirements and how your unique strengths make you an ideal fit for the position.

Describe a challenge you faced at work
Effective response: focus on the challenge, your actions to address it, and the positive outcomes, making a point of highlighting your problem-solving and resilience.

How do you handle stress?
Effective response: discuss strategies you use to manage stress, such as prioritisation and time management.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Effective response: highlight strengths relevant to the job and when discussing weaknesses, focus on areas where you've actively worked to improve.

How do you handle conflict in the workplace?
Effective response: share an example of a conflict you successfully resolved, emphasising communication, collaboration, and a positive outcome.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Effective response: talk about your career goals and how they align with the company's growth.

Legal considerations and rights

Work conditions and your rights as an intern in Australia

  • Minimum wage: Australia has a national minimum wage, and all workers, including interns, are entitled to receive at least this amount for their work. Based on the insights provided by some of Australia's top job search sites, the hourly pay for interns falls between $20 to $40 based on the organisation and role.

  • Fair Work Act: this Act is the primary legislation governing employment in Australia, outlining the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees, including interns.

  • National Employment Standards (NES): the NES sets out ten minimum employment entitlements in Australia, including things like maximum weekly hours, leave entitlements, and termination notice periods - this applies to interns as well.

  • Workplace health and safety: As an intern, you have the right to a safe and healthy working environment.
    Discrimination and harassment: interns, like any other employees, have the right to be free from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Unpaid internships

Unpaid internships are legal in Australia under certain conditions. To qualify as a legitimate unpaid internship, it should be a vocational placement, meaning it is a required part of your educational or training course.

Remember, while unpaid internships can offer valuable learning experiences, it's crucial to ensure that your rights are upheld, and the arrangement aligns with Australian labour laws.

Maximising your internship experience

In a foreign country, landing a job is not always that easy. It’s often who you know who you need to rely on, as they can refer to the right people, offer recommendations, and guide you with their experience. You can make a network of such people through your alumni network as well as during your internships.

Often your workplace might help out by assigning you a mentor to work under, with the idea being for you to use their help and guidance to achieve your goals.

If you exhibit your skills and the right attitude, the chances are high to be offered a job by the company. And if you’re not so lucky, don’t forget to ask for some written recommendations for your LinkedIn profile, as this helps your profile look credible and improves your job prospects.


Most internship Australia programmes provide tailored placements, plenty of support, and fun social activities. They’re a fantastic method to learn and experience your subject in depth and as an international student, the benefits are immense.

They offer the chance to learn new things, expand one's network of business contacts, and research potential career paths.

Internships give you a chance to network with industry experts who could, later on, prove to be useful contacts. Lastly, internships can assist overseas students in acquiring transferable abilities that firms value when hiring new employees. It’s definitely worth considering as it can be a life-changing experience.

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