Bushfires, flood, drought, COVID-19 and recession – the end of 2019 and the first half of 2020 has thrown a spanner in the works for many businesses and educational facilities, as well as students looking to make their first foray into the professional work environment.
Across the country, numerous students were unable to go through with their internships, with companies unable to support them virtually.
Alexandra Whitehouse and Nicholas Crosby from the University of Technology Sydney were two such students who had already started their internships prior to the Coronavirus pandemic shuttering businesses and forcing employees to work from home. Both Alexandra and Nicholas joined Export Connect as interns three months ago, spending just two weeks in the office before having to complete the rest of their program virtually.
Nicholas notes that “transitioning to a virtual internship was surprisingly seamless, with no significant frustrations.” As much of the work Nicholas was tasked with required little micromanagement, he was able to work independently with no obstacles. He does note however that being able to check in with the team virtually 2 – 3 times a day to discuss tasks and progression was a great way to maintain communication and morale, as well as keeping him grounded and on track for successful project completion.
Alexandra agrees, noting that while it was challenging working virtually, it helped her understand and develop the skills needed to work through and overcome obstacles in her path. “As a person who thrives off being social and around people constantly, my only challenge was that I was working alone and not interacting with the team throughout the whole day.” The calls via Zoom daily, however, were a huge help.
Despite not being able to work with the Export Connect team in the office, Alexandra says that she enjoyed “being part of an amazing and supportive team where each member was always there if we needed help. I enjoyed being able to work on client projects and getting insights into different markets where I had little prior knowledge.”
Internships allow students to gain skills both personally and professionally, as well as giving guidance as to where their skills are best suited. Alexandra notes that “from a professional standpoint, I gained great experience working as part of a team, and it helped grow my work ethic and strengthen my skills in market research. I became more confident in myself, because I was working through projects on my own, learning on the go.”
Nicholas believes that the “soft-skills” in communication and research that he was able to develop “are critical to success in the business environment, and this internship opportunity has helped me develop these skills considerably.”
Intern Profile – Nicholas Crosby
Degree and Majors – Bachelor of Business (majoring in Marketing), Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (majoring in Enterprise Systems Development)
Nicholas is a third-year Business and Information Technology student at the University of Technology in Sydney. He has previously taken on an administrative role in an accounting firm as well as Treasurer of the UTS United Nations Society, and is part of the FEIT Aspire Employability Program at UTS.
Coming into his internship, Nicholas’ goals were to build his skills in research and communication, developing professional skills for the next phase of his career. Working with the Export Connect team provided Nicholas with an insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of a start-up business, inspiring an entrepreneurial spirit within.
Intern Profile – Alexandra Whitehouse
Degree and Majors – Bachelor of Economics (sub-majors in Marketing and Mathematics)
Alexandra is in her final year at the University of Technology Sydney, studying a Bachelor of Economics, majoring in marketing and mathematics. Coming to Export Connect to complete her internship gave her the opportunity to grow professionally and personally, expanding knowledge and professional skills. Her internship with Export Connect follows a previous short internship in the marketing department at Tip Top Bakeries.
Alexandra has a love of travel and exploring different countries, with 18 European countries marked off her list so far. Unsurprisingly, the travel she has done has helped immensely during her time at Export Connect.
Like almost every business, COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we work at Export Connect, but it hasn’t changed our commitment to providing quality mentorship to students. We now have a fully virtual internship programme which we look forward to expanding, alongside our traditional in-house internship programme.
Export Connect is committed to developing future exporters. If you’d like to know more about our internship program, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org