1) John, what is the AII Victoria India Internship Program you completed and what sparked your interest to apply?
The Australia India Institute (AII) offers internships at organisations in several cities throughout India as well as positions at Indian companies based in Victoria. There are positions at organisations in a wide range of fields including finance, marketing, pharmaceuticals, IT and also trade and investment such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry where I worked.
I have been interested in India since taking an undergraduate subject about contemporary India and travelling there a few years ago. As we all know, internships and work experience are crucial when it comes to job-hunting, so the AII Intern program during the summer break seemed like a great opportunity. The application process isn’t too strenuous; just a CV and cover letter expressing your interest. You shouldn’t have any trouble writing the expression of interest piece given what an infinitely exciting place India is for people from different backgrounds and areas of study.
Find out more about the Victoria India Internships Program‘s application process here.
2) What does the organisation you interned with, FICCI, do and what type of things did you have the chance to work on as an intern?
FICCI is the peak national chamber of commerce in India. They provide a forum for industry to formulate policy positions and articulate them to government and civil society. They also provide training and advice for businesses on emerging issues, and facilitate a range of business-to-business and business-to-government exchanges.
I worked in the international division as part of the team that focuses on the ASEAN and Oceania regions. I was exposed to a wide variety of work. I wrote research papers on India’s economic relationships with Australia and several ASEAN nations, drafted surveys to collect industry’s perspective on policy issues, helped with a publication about Indian companies operating in Australia, and vice versa, and also helped with events that my team organised.
FICCI covers just about every industry sector you can think of, so there were always events going on at the office, which I would often attend. Attending these events was a great part of the internship experience as it exposed me to a wide range of topics that I would never have expected to learn about, such as India’s defence industry and agricultural cooperation with China.
3) I understand you’re doing a Master of International Relations and don’t have a business background, did this internship expand your understanding of international career opportunities out there and the different aspects of the Australia-India relationship?
Definitely. I think studying international relations or something similar can sometimes leave you wondering where it’s all going to lead. This experience opened my mind about the kinds of careers that can have an international aspect, to which your skills can be directly transferable.
Like I said, one of the best parts of my internship was attending all sorts of events and meeting really interesting people. International trade and investment are highly important to many areas of government, the private sector and non-government organisations like FICCI. Coming from a non-commerce background, I was somewhat apprehensive working in an organisation that focuses heavily on trade and investment. But as an intern, its highly unlikely you’ll be asked to work on something technical like economic models or econometrics. Rather, I was able to learn a lot about international trade and investment while applying the research and analytical skills I learnt in my social science and humanities studies.
I also came to appreciate the current extent of the Australia-India relationship and the enormous potential for future growth. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Given this, the current economic relationship with Australia is somewhat underwhelming. I think the coming years should bring growth in the relationship and hopefully many more opportunities for engagement along with it.
4) What was it like living and working in India’s capital, and are you itching to go back?
I absolutely loved Delhi. Much more than I had expected. I think Delhi gets a bit of a bad rap compared with other destinations in India. But as a place to live and work, it was great. I enjoyed amazing food, plenty of nightlife and entertainment. Commuting was very easy although incredibly crowded! The metro system there is far better than anything I’ve experienced in Australia.
I also tried to learn some Hindi while I was there. Something I would certainly recommend. I think the ‘everyone speaks English’ line about India is a bit overdone. Plenty of people you come across don’t, and being able to exchange even a few words with locals will enrich your experience.
There are endless things to see and do in Delhi. The city has so many layers of history, so two months was nowhere near enough to see it all. I’m eagerly awaiting my next chance to go back and keep ticking things off.