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March 2012 issue

Contents
News
News Round Up
Inside the industry
Advisor Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Vocational Focus
Direction
Special Report
Course Guide
Spotlight
Destination
City Focus
Market Analysis
Status
Grapevine

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Work experience

With job markets becoming increasingly competitive in the global recession, a period of overseas work experience is more valuable than ever. Jane Vernon Smith reports on the trends within this growing sector.

Motivated by personal development to fund overseas travel and/or language learning, or a desire to enhance their resume and better their future employment prospects, increasingly, in today’s competitive global environment, young people are looking for foreign work experience and internships.

However, different objectives are best served by different means. One question any candidate should ask themselves from the outset is whether their needs will best be met by work experience that is paid or unpaid. While it may seem self-evident that to be paid is better than to be unpaid, the reality is not so straightforward, as Timothy Wells of Canada-based INTERNeX International Exchange, points out.

Students undertaking a work experience placement as a requirement of a university course, for example, should bear in mind that, “Paid programmes are based nearly exclusively on the needs of the host, and there is very little room for negotiation on the part of the candidate...and the placement cannot be ‘sculpted’ to the needs of the candidate (or the university), as it can with unpaid opportunities.” Meanwhile, universities worldwide are beginning to focus heavily on the content of the placement, he notes, and seeking “meaningful, outcome-driven placement opportunities” for their students. The advantage of unpaid internships is that they can be tailored to the needs of each individual candidate.

Paid work experience placements, meanwhile, tend to be found overwhelmingly in the hospitality and customer services sectors, according to Wells, and should not generally be considered for career advancement, he says, unless the candidate plans to work in one of these fields as a career.

Paid placements
Paid placements provide not only a way for students to support their studies, but also a great opportunity to practise and improve their language skills, as Inma Sánchez, Managing Director of Spanish study travel consultancy, Choices International, highlights. “They can be excellent for the flexible candidate looking to subsidise their trip abroad through earning a salary,” adds Wells. One cannot expect to earn a lot,” he underlines, “but a sufficient amount to enjoy the [place] they work in. Paid positions are also a great way to participate fully in the culture of the country, and make lots of friends.”

According to Caroline Norris, International Sales & Marketing Officer at UK-based Skola Group, the fragile economic situation within the European Union is currently fuelling demand for paid study and work programmes. In the US, the Center for Cultural Interchange and Greenheart (CCI) is continuing to see great demand from Eastern Europe for its work & travel programmes, says Work Programs Administrative Relations Manager, Melissa Hickok. Meanwhile, Canada-based INTERNeX has seen a levelling of demand for paid hospitality programmes, according to Wells, as demand has risen in some regions, but dissipated in others. However, in contrast to the situation in some other markets, he has seen the supply of paid positions increase markedly, as the local economy rebounds.

In terms of unpaid placements, according to Letitia Hatanaka at Travellers Worldwide, demand has grown very quickly in the UK, having increased by possibly as much as 100 per cent over the past four years, fuelled by graduates unable to get work without experience. While talk of paid, professional internships has been dampened of late by the impact of the financial crisis, according to Wells, he notes “a marked increase” in interest in unpaid internship programmes – both intra- and extra-curricular. He especially highlights “a dramatic increase in the interest for accredited, content-driven internship programmes”, arising from changes in higher education.

Monitoring demand
In Australia, too, at Australian Internships, Managing Director Diana Pilling has seen greater demand for internships over recent years, with growth in the region of 10-to-12 per cent. China, India and Latin America – Colombia in particular – have been at the forefront of this increase, while Germany continues to find a place in the top five source nationalities, she observes.

As Pilling points out, demand can be strongly influenced by government policy, with changes in the occupations that are eligible to apply for Australian permanent residency being reflected in demand for work placements. Special initiatives – such as the Skilled Migration Internship Programme in Accounting – also play a key role in determining client preferences, she notes, as well as scholarship programmes and projects, such as the Global Human Capital Project in Japan.

However, internships are sought and provided across virtually all fields of work. At Professionals UK, there has been no particular change in areas requested. According to Managing Director, Karen Bowring, “We are still being asked for anything from car mechanic to legal assistant, ceramics assistant to engineering.” One change observed by James Johnston at Practigo in Germany, is a rise in the number of highly qualified clients wanting suitable placements in areas such as architecture and engineering. As Hatanaka underlines, “People want specialised areas of study,” and to meet this need, Travellers Worldwide is able to tailor-make internships for each candidate.

Media-based programmes continue to be popular, and CCI has recently begun offering internship/trainee programmes in arts & culture and information media & communications. Another interesting development is a new internship with a stipend being launched by Australian Internships for French students from certain universities completing their stage (required work experience), while fellow Australian provider, Professional Pathways Australia (a division of Monash University) recently introduced a gap-year internship programme for high school leavers, whose purpose, according to spokesperson Nejka Pintaric, “is to offer young travellers a gap year with substance, and the chance to improve their career and/or study prospects when they return home.”

For students whose language skills are not quite up to the required level, some language schools offer work experience programmes alongside or following a period of language tuition. Spain’s Malaca Instituto, for example, offers unpaid placements for a minimum three months’ duration. “We offer [these] only in conjunction with a language course,” says the school’s Natascha Kaviratna. “We think four weeks is the minimum, but we recommend more, depending on the student’s level, the type of internship requested and the duration. In general, we require a level equivalent to having completed B2 [of the CEFR].”

Managing expectations
In seeking to marry candidates to appropriate placements, the job of providers is not always easy. “We spend a lot of time and money managing expectations,” comments Johnston. “We have had many applications from school leavers wanting placements in management, without actually realising what this entails and that it isn’t really a possibility. Once we explain that they have to be willing to accept a more general field of work in order to gain invaluable work experience abroad, this is usually no problem. Once a client settles in to work at a company, they tend to realise the gains that this experience will give them.

“Certain fields of work are always hard to organise, and can even be difficult for clients with work experience and/or a relevant university degree,” he adds. Therefore, flexibility over destination is always advisable. However, “If someone is determined to do a placement in a certain city, then they may have to rethink the field of work in which they would like to be placed.”

According to Intern UK’s Programme Director, Stuart Blake, one common mistake made by prospective interns is to go for blue chip companies at all costs. “Having a famous name on their CV may initially look promising to a prospective employer, but, if the role involved offered little responsibility and didn’t stretch the intern’s abilities, then it has actually achieved very little,” he points out. “[On the other hand],” he says, “an intern who has been involved in really contributing to their host company, will invariably still be enthusing about their placement at an interview.”

It is always worth bearing in mind that, as Hatanaka points out, “Doing work experience, overseas especially, gives confidence, not just in a field of work, but in the human being and their personal development. Meeting new people, managing alone and experiencing a new culture, shows huge levels of motivation, courage and organisation. I think this is what future employers appreciate,” she underlines, as much as the hands-on experience within the industry in question. It’s the life-experience gained that has the lingering effect.”



The right candidate for the job

Ensuring the suitability of candidates for their preferred placements plays a major part in the success or otherwise of the experience, both for themselves and for their employers. Therefore, most companies ask candidates to undergo a rigorous vetting procedure.

The form this takes may vary. For example, for internship/trainee placements at US-based CCI, “We have a stringent screening process, including CV review, scheduled interview with the host organisation and then an additional interview with CCI staff. Applicants must also provide reference letters and proof of university status or degree upon programme application,” comments spokesperson Melissa Hickok. Meanwhile, for work & travel programmes, she says, “We rely on our network of overseas sending partners to assist with screening our applicants and ensuring they are prepared for their...programme and are suitable for their placements.” The organisation also takes part in job fairs, where candidates can be interviewed either in person or virtually by their potential employer.

One of the major requirements of a work placement overseas is an adequate command of the language, and some organisations specify a minimum level as a basic requirement for consideration. Australian internship specialist, Australian Internships, asks for Ielts 6.0, and, in common with increasing numbers of organisations, “We Skype all applicants prior to accepting them into the programme,” explains Managing Director, Diana Pilling. Any students falling short of the required standard are advised that they must undertake English classes.

Skype interviews take around 30 minutes, she explains, and help the interviewer to assess candidates’ requests, gain more understanding of their priorities and really build on the information already provided in their resume, letter of objectives and academic transcripts. Candidates are also required to take part in interviews with the host organisation prior to any final placement arrangements, and, says Pilling, both the host and the candidate have an opportunity to discuss their priorities and assess suitability.

Timothy Wells of Canada’s INTERNeX International Exchange also highlights the use of the vetting process not only to assess suitability, but also to ensure that expectations are appropriate, based on the candidate’s specific background. “The process is designed to provide absolutely realistic information to the participant...as to what to expect for a placement, about their specific industry in Canada or New Zealand, what life is like on location, and how to effectively prepare for the interview,” he explains.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.

Name

Company

Country

Telephone

Email


ACCOMODATION
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  

ASSOCIATIONS/GROUPS
English Australia  
English UK  
English UK London  
Groupement FLE  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
MEI Ireland  
Perth Education City  
Quality English  
Study Gold Coast  
English in Chester  

AUSTRALIA
Access Macquarie Limited  
Bond University  
ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
International House Sydney Teacher Training & Prof  
Language Studies International  
NEAS Australia  
Perth Education City  
Study Gold Coast  
University of Newcastle Language Centre  
University of New South Wales  

BELGIUM
CERAN Lingua International  

CANADA
Bow Valley College  
CSLI  
Destination Canada  
Global Village  
Greater Victoria School District  
Guard Me  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Niagara College  
Ottawa International Student Programmes (OISP)  
Omnicom School of Languages  
Saint Mary's University  
Study Abroad Canada Language Institute  
Upper Madison College  
Vancouver English Centre  
Victoria International Academy  
York University English Language Institute  

CHINA
iMandarin Language Training Institute  

CHILE
Tandem Santiago  

ENGLAND
Angel Language Academy  
Ardmore Language Schools  
Askham Bryan College  
Cambridge Education Group  
Camp Beaumont  
Capital School of English  
Centre of English Studies  
EAC Language Centres and Activity Camps  
ELC London - Hampstead School of English  
English Studio  
English UK London  
International House London  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Prime Education  
LAL London  
London School of Business & Finance  
London School of English  
Malvern House College London  
PGL  
Princes College School of English  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
School of Oriental and African Studies  
St Giles International  
Study Group  
Sussex Coast College Hastings  
University of East Anglia  
University of Essex - International Academy  
Wimbledon School of English  
  
EVENTS
SR Events  
Study World  
STM Star Awards  

EXAM BOARDS
Cambridge Esol  
City and Guilds Branch Office in Europe  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  
Trinity College London  

FRANCE
Accent Francais  
Alliance Française Lyon  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
Groupement FLE  
Idiom  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  

GERMANY
F+U Academy of Languages  

INSURANCE
Dr Walter  
Guard Me  

IRELAND English Language Academy ELA  
MEI Ireland  
ITALY 2  
Dialogo Language Services  
IH Milan  
Percorsi d'italiano  

MALTA
Bell International  
EC English Language Centre  

SERVICES
Good Hope Studies  

SPAIN
International House - Sevilla CLIC  
Xul Comunicación Social  
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  

SWITZERLAND
EF International Language Centers  
Eurocentres International  

TOURIST BOARDS
Malta Tourism Authority  
Office de Tourisme Montpellier  

USA
Brown University  
California State University San Marcos  
ELS Language Centers  
FLS International  
Global Language Institute  
New York Language Center  
Open Hearts International College  
Saint John's University  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
UC Berkeley Extension  
University of Arizona  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers  





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