dimanche 23 mai 2010

Internships in France for Australian university students

I stumbled upon this Word doc which came from this page of the French Embassy in Australia (L'Ambassade de France en Australie).

In it, are some appalling statistics:

The number of Australians studying overseas is low : only 1% of Australian students

- 370 Australian students in France (compared to 3000 French students in Australia)

- Internships with companies are not commonly part of Australian university life. But, French companies in Australia are used to welcoming French interns

- Dynamism of French Industry represented by no fewer than 250 French companies established and operating in Australia

- Limited French language skills (only 2.5% of the High School student population learn French)

- Satisfying numbers of students enrolled in the first year level in French in University Departments but attendance quickly petering out in subsequent years.

The lucky chosen students get to spend

- 12 months (6 months in Australia, followed by 6 months in France)
- or possibly 6 months (3 months in Australia, followed by 3 months in France)

and paid up to $30,000 for their internship work.

Ten global French companies are involved:

- EADS (Airbus/Australian Aerospace),
- Thales,
- Turbomeca,
- Suez Degremont,
- BNP Paribas Australia,
- Alstom,
- Areva T&D,
- Veolia Transport,
- Total, and
- Altios International

How good is that!!

What can I say?

When I was in high school it was NOT compulsory to study a foreign language. When I was in early high school the only languages offered were French and German, then later Japanese and Indonesian. (I know that now Chinese Mandarin and Arabic are the 'hottest' languages to learn). I ended up deciding to do Japanese for my final high school exam, which is definitely something I've not regretted. Although I can't speak much now I can still read it and understand some of it when others are talking... but I'm getting off the topic.

Until a few years ago I'd never even heard of doing an internship (un stage) overseas whilst at university. I don't know about these days but when I was in university the internships weren't even that well organised. You had to find your own company and you only went for a few weeks, not a few months. You had to do everything on your own and there wasn't much support from the university nor the company and very very few people got hired after their time was up. There was no 'credit' system like in the US either. It might have just been my course and/or my university, but I know that our 'system' is far inferior to that of North America, Asia and Europe.

Going to a university that's away from one's own city is basically unheard of, so doing an internship overseas is even more unheard of although the overseas exchange program has always been in place. My sister did an exchange, and I know friends who did it, and people who are doing an exchange right now.  I had the opportunity to do one too (in England or Germany) but my marks weren't good enough :( nor did I have adequate funds to support myself over there. Some students from my German partner university came over and we had a great time getting to know them, so in a way I guess it was fun to live the experience through their eyes.

On that note, when I was in high school, we also had an exchange student come over from Europe, from Norway. Suffice to say, I'm kind of jealous of these European kids that have all these opportunities... Being at the bottom of the world in the middle of nowhere makes it hard to 'connect' with the rest of the world.

I think this is an amazing program and I'm sure those who are smart enough and motivated enough to get into such a program will do very well in their future careers. This program only started this year in January 2010 so let's hope it'll get bigger and better in upcoming years and strengthen those Franco-Australian relations! :) and that more Australian students realise the benefits of 1) studying a foreign language both in high school and university and 2) studying and/or working overseas.

As every French person seems to know, if Australia was discovered by La Perouse only 8 days earlier, before The First Fleet had arrived, we would probably be a French-speaking country now, or we would be like Canada and speak both French and English!


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