Can My Child Handle This Program?
Chances are they can! We have run gap year programs for twenty years and Intern Down Under for four semesters. Fifty-seven students have gone to Australia/New Zealand with us and only a few have failed to finish the program.
If your child has never held a mop—don’t worry, he/she is not alone (usually it’s the he’s). If they have never cooked their own meals—join the crowd. Out of necessity, teens find a way to eat, mop, and do their own clothes if you throw them into the deep end. We meet with them regularly and make food, laundry, and cleaning suggestions. Eventually they all figure it out.
It helps that we time our arrival in the absolute best weather for both countries. We avoid the heat of Sydney in January and the lingering cold of Auckland in October. While seldom mentioned in evaluations, giving them a program in the best possible seasons is key. As the days become shorter and colder back home, we enjoy increased daylight and excellent beach conditions. If a student feels homesick, we pull up a weather map for their home and compare it to Auckland and Sydney. For some, that starts the process of counting your blessings.
Alcohol is a worry for some parents. Students can drink legally in these countries. That first week or two, going out is a big deal for some of them. After that, it loses some of the luster. As long as they don’t bring alcohol into the houses, or show up to their internship late, we do not get involved in their after-hours activities. If we catch wind that someone is going overboard, we discuss it with them or call their parents if appropriate.
We have reviewed student resumes for twenty years and know what jumps off the page and what doesn’t. High school clubs, entry-level jobs, language camps—fine and dandy—but our eyes gloss over them. As employers, as well as program providers, we asked ourselves what makes us stand up and take notice of young applicants? International internships in world class cities are the shining stars that can separate a young person from their peers. They demonstrate an aptitude to master foreign environments, adjust to cultural differences, and succeed in challenging work settings.
Competing in the global marketplace is a badge of honor in the business and non-profit world. Our students walk away with two new internships for their resumes as well as letters of recommendations from both Dr. Adams and the internship hosts.
Gap Programs that travel as a group from place-to-place and plan everything down to when a student brushes their teeth have their benefits. But they do not provide the stamp of independence and professionalism that employers are looking for. They are a curiosity on a resume more so than a springboard to a first career job.
International internships ground students in how businesses and non-profits function and thrive in the global marketplace. Seeing this with their own eyes before being inundated with theories and models at a university can be the difference between living in the real world or drifting into fantasy.
It’s taken twenty years of trial and error to come up with the model for Intern Down Under. Having a five-day orientation at the beginning helps students get to know each other and meet the people they have the most in common with.
We take them outside the city to places they would likely not visit on their own. We show them the wild spaces and teach them about the history of the areas. We hike remote beaches and enjoy Aboriginal dance performances. Most of all, we keep it light and fun. They have some serious work to do the next week; orientation is about relaxing, learning, and hanging out.
This program functions on a natural model with minimal social engineering. It’s geared to treat them as independent individuals who can take or leave the group as they wish. We don’t sit in circles and prod students to share their innermost thoughts with others. And if they have issues living with certain people, we simply move them if we can and move on.
This program is about adults showing up to work on time; checking out new places together or alone; and discovering how cool life can be when you learn to function independently.
Our staff checks in with them twice a week on average. Some days we do one-on-one check-ins and discuss their mental and physical well-being and how they are doing at their internships. Other days we meet with their entire households—usually four at a time—and talk about places to go and how to plan their trips.
The mentoring we do is built into the fabric of the program. If they follow the few rules we require, they are mentoring themselves which is the ideal. If they have issues with a roommate or boss, get sick, or have anxiety, we handle this in a confidential manner. We make our suggestions and help set up doctor’s appointments and let parents know what is going on.
WHAT PARENTS SAY
“Carlos is very happy with the plant internship you set up and the roommates you chose for him. He likes structure and this internship is perfect for that. This is a great experience to prepare him for his biology major at the university.”