New online portal to drive India-Australia internship opportunities

By Our Reporter
From left Honorary Associate Professor Harsh Suri Dr Sally Northfield, United Nations Association Australia Professor Divya Singhal, Goa Institute of Management Professor Ian Howie, United Nations Association Australia Dr Sushil Kumar, Consul General of India Professor Iain Martin, Deakin Vice-Chancellor Dr Ameeta Jain, FoBL Matt Cameron, WIL manager FoBL Susan Coles, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Photo supplied by Deakin University)

A new online portal will facilitate and promote student internships across Australia and India to increase ties in education, research, trade, and sustainable development between the two countries.

Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin and Melbourne’s Consul General of India Dr Sushil Kumar presided over the formal launch of the portal at a special event today.

Deakin Business School senior lecturer Dr Ameeta Jain has spearheaded the establishment of the internship program, alongside colleagues Honorary Associate Professor Harsh Suri and Professor Alex Newman, with funding from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), according to a Deakin University media release.

Dr Jain said the portal would offer both virtual and face-to-face internship opportunities for Australian and Indian students across both countries.

“Host organisations can post internships on the portal and universities can access these to find opportunities that are relevant for their students,” she said.

“The portal website also includes resources for organisations that are interested in offering internships, so they can better understand the options available and the benefits that hosting interns can bring.”

Internships hosted through the portal are primarily aimed at helping non-government organisations (NGOs) with work focussed on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), developing skills in the growing area of corporate social responsibility.

Dr Jain said smaller NGOs needed help but didn’t often have the resources to support internship opportunities.

The Australia and India SDG Internships program aims to bridge that gap, bringing together Australian and Indian students to work on projects and build positive cross-cultural relationships that may continue through their careers.

“The capacity for virtual internships is especially important in enabling us to connect with a wide range of collaborators across both countries,” Dr Jain said.

“We saw how virtual internships worked well, in part out of necessity, during the pandemic. But they can also offer a low-cost option for students who want to build international experience and connections.”

Deakin international student Kelly Vijaykumar Soni is from Gujarat state. Interning with the Goa Institute of Management, she worked alongside a Deakin student from a non-Indian background and saw it as a great opportunity to practice teamwork and help her partner with cultural insights.

From left: Prof Divya Singhal, Dr Ameeta Jain, Dr Sushil Kumar and Prof Iain Martin // Photo supplied by Deakin University

Kelly is in her final year of a business analytics degree and was keen to concentrate on applied learning subjects, so jumped at the chance to take part in the internship program.

“I wanted experience that was practical to apply to the real world, and being from India, it was great to meet Indian clients and help them find solutions,” she said.

“I helped my host organisation look at data to analyse progress around the Sustainable Development Goals, and I built new analytics dashboards. It was my first time working with data that wasn’t numbers, so it was a great practical experience to solve that problem.”

Kelly’s internship supervisor Dr Divya Singhal is Chair of the Centre for Social Sensitivity (CSSA), created by the Goa Institute of Management to promote social responsibility and achieve the goals of the United Nation’s Agenda 2030.

Dr Singhal said the internship program was a fantastic way to collaborate and learn from each other.

“This program is beneficial at many levels. It provides participating organisations opportunity to network with each other, it can result in sharing best practices beyond the agreed project, and students also learn about other countries’ perspectives and situations,” she said.

“It’s now seven years since the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 launched. So, it’s the right time to understand how organisations have been able to make contributions towards these targets. Programs like this that are focused on SDGs are helpful in preparing future graduates.”

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