My name is Brandon McConnell. I'm currently in my fourth year of a Bachelor of Commerce doing a double major in Finance and Accounting. And at the end of 2021, during summer, I completed a three and a half month virtual internship with a Korean fashion and design company.
I think for me, one of the highlights would definitely be the ability to sort of work with an overseas company and get a sense of an overseas sort of commercial and a commercial operating environment. Also working in a virtual capacity. I was, was like a good skill that I got to practice with over that time. That's obviously going to be like the hybrid work environment is definitely more prominent since COVID, and it was a great skill to sort of develop. And I had a really good experience with with my buddy in the company that I was paired up with. So we still keep in contact now, and obviously that leads to connections and a lot more networking opportunities down the track for for just advice or potential job opportunities. So yeah, that would definitely have to be the highlight.
Yeah. So for me, I sort of wanted to diversify my experience. I obviously know that the graduate job market is very, very competitive and I think that just narrowing your, your options to a domestic internship opportunity, although it's great, I think that opportunities looking overseas and getting some experience in, as I mentioned earlier, you know, overseas operating environment, I don't think you can replicate that with with a domestic internship experience. And I think that being able to have that understanding of how another country's operating environment works or some of the different market market conditions that they might experience, I don't think you can replicate that. And I think a lot of companies have a global footprint now. And for myself, looking at graduate employment opportunities, a lot of the companies have that global footprint and being able to sort of go into that role with that experience already puts you ahead of the crowd by a mile.
I think the first and most important one would definitely be the ability to sort of work in that remote environment. Obviously, getting a job out of uni, you might find yourself working in sort of that hybrid model where it's a bit of both the in-person and online, but yet getting the skill to work remotely would definitely be the most important thing that I took away from the internship. But obviously all the other things that come with it, ah, on the side. Like being able to communicate over emails, communicate over phone calls, zoom calls, whatever medium is used, just being able to sort of build relationships with people that you work with, whether that be your manager in more of a formal way or just building friendships and and sort of building that common ground with the people that you work with. I think that translates very well for future job opportunities. And I don't think you quite get that just from studying inside the classroom.
Yeah, I think the most important thing for me was that you sort of open your eyes to sort of realise that it's a big world out there and being being from Australia you sort of can easily get, you know, enclosed in thinking that it's just that one market but is actually a big world out there and things are done very differently overseas, whether that be the way that communication's done between staff. Obviously language and cultures the obvious one, but definitely sort of the operating environment, some of the different legal, economic or regulatory forces that businesses have to be sort of aware of and have to navigate, you sort of realised that you know, going for a job after uni and you're going to work for a company that's sort of immersed like globally. You have to think about a lot more than just the the Australian perspective and Australian operating environment. So it's really important to sort of have that awareness and I think that's the main thing that you take away from an international experience like this one.
To be honest, I would directly attribute I received a graduate job offer to Deloitte and I would directly attribute the virtual internship program as being one of the key contributors to me getting that role. Just some of the answers that I was able to provide in the interview, some of the experiences that I already had and was able to provide in in situations put me way ahead of some of the people that I was sort of up against and even talking with the team now getting ready to start with them. Obviously there's lots of different cultures, backgrounds, nationalities and just sort of having that experience working with one other group has sort of made me feel a lot more comfortable working with or going to be working with those groups going forward in the future.
I definitely think that for myself, pretty much half of my degree was impacted by COVID lockdowns. So the opportunity to to still get an overseas experience was fantastic. It was always a plan of mine to do a longer term exchange, preferably somewhere throughout Asia, so when I saw that this opportunity was there, I'm sure a lot of other students can vouch that, COVID was a tricky time and just being able to sort of diversify my experience rather than doing, you know, virtual classes online and sort of doing something outside the box and still getting like a sense of what that overseas work or cultural environment might look like was, yeah, really valuable. And I'd definitely say that it was one of the highlights of my degree to date.
I think the New Colombo Plan grant that I received to complete the virtual internship was obviously I'm really grateful to have received that and I think it made a big difference in being able to feel more confident to just jump in without the financial burden that the program costs would have had. Obviously, New Colombo Plan grants are, you know, very valuable for students and allow us to immerse ourselves as Australian students in them Asian operating environments and contexts. And I think that it definitely gave me that extra confidence to take on board not only the subject but the internship without that burden of the financial or without the financial burden on top of that. So definitely gave me a lot of confidence.
BUS 300 was fantastic. As a subject itself, it didn't add to my workload significantly too much, which is something that might be important to students that are completing an internship program. Obviously, they're going to be doing 10 to 20 hours of work a week in a virtual capacity, which might may take time to adjust to as well. So BUS 300 had two compulsory classes and two compulsory assessments, so one class and one assessment before the internship started and then one class and one assessment after the internship finished.
So we really got an opportunity to talk with with the teaching staff about what we were getting ourselves into and feel really supported before we started. And then we also got time to reflect at the end of the internship to work out what went well, what didn't go so well, and how we can leverage the strengths that we took in and how we can build on the opportunities for for growth and improvement. So I think the subject really supported the program itself and yeah, it was fantastic.
It's a no brainer to say that I'd definitely redo the exact experience that I had. I think the BUS 300 program and the virtual internship, it's really set me up for my future. I would actually, if I could do my time again. Obviously, the circumstances weren't ideal for me, but I would love to actually go overseas and immerse myself in a in a program physically, I think maybe even doing the virtual program first and then visiting that same place or somewhere similar afterwards would actually be a fantastic opportunity as well.
Once you've got that taste for it in a virtual capacity, you can go over there and really immerse yourself. So speaking from my experience with BUS 300 and the Virtual Internship program, I think one of the most important things to emphasise is that the graduate employment market is so competitive for jobs, particularly in in the business fields. For myself, in the finance discipline, I noticed that it was very competitive and it's programs like these that really allow you to set yourself apart from other graduates that are trying to compete for the uh a limited number of jobs. So I think being able to have this international experience, this ability to demonstrate a remote working capacity or hybrid working capacity is very important. Sets you apart from from other graduates.
Yeah, so it's quite easy to say, but I think you just need to throw yourself out there. I think as students, we're very fortunate at at UOW to have things like the NCP grants and support of programs like BUS 300 that give you, you know, the full support and package to go through and do an internship like this. And I think when you see things like this come across, whether it's emails or newsletters from the careers office, I think you really just need to take it on board, have a have that 5 minutes just to read through and make the inquiries. Even if even if you're not 100% sure, just just ask them questions and just to see if that's something that you can see yourself doing because you never know. It might it might end up leading, you know, to the career path or an opportunity later on down the track. But the best advice that I could give is just to take advantage of the significant opportunities that we're given as students here at UOW.