Griffith Asia Business Internship – Cultivating Asian literacy remotely

GABI exposes students to the diversity and dynamism of Asia through remote industry internships.

 

Dr Andrea Haefner

Dr Andrea Haefner

Griffith University

Discipline

Business

Model/s of WIL activity

Industry/community based placement

Description of WIL activity

The Griffith Asia Institute aims to expose students to Asia by developing cultural, political, and economic understanding and awareness. The Griffith Asia Business Internship program, is a 20 CP course designed to foster personal connections and professional networks across the Asia-Pacific region. The course focuses on developing digital capabilities, authentically navigating the new world of work, and increasing employability to bolster graduate success. Opportunities to engage with Asia continued throughout COVID by pivoting to remote placements with host organizations across Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Malaysia alongside comprehensive online cultural activities, language classes, and industry events. 

How long has it been operating?

This interdisciplinary global WIL course has been in operation for three years under the leadership of the Griffith Asia Institute and has included a remote option since 2020. Available destinations have been growing year by year with currently seven destinations being offered in 2021, including Fiji, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

The interdisciplinary Griffith Asia Business Internship (GABI) provides 6-week, unpaid full-time internship placements with industry partners across seven destinations in Asia. GABI’s focus is on providing opportunities for all students, independent of discipline, age, nationality, socio-economic background, or degree (UG or PG). It aims to successfully engage a diverse range of cohorts, including students with disability, age ranges from 17 to 55 years as well as students with either little or extensive professional work experience. Griffith Asia Institute’s well-established membership and industry partnerships play an important role in developing sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships that build each year. These well-established relationships, including with key Australian government agencies, combined with a comprehensive Asia Ready Program prior to the placements, allowed the pivot to remote learning in 2020 with continued growth in 2021. Griffith Alumni are involved in finding suitable placements and connecting students to the foreign culture and country. Reciprocally, alumni enjoy re-connecting with its alma mater and staying in touch through these connections. The addition of a remote global internship was innovative in that it opened up accessibility, students worked with industry partners in another country to deliver projects as well as undertaking relevant cultural activities and extra curricula networking events. Pivoting to remote learning in 2020 was well received by both students and industry partners with 100% of students recommending the remote GABI program to future students and similarly all host organisations have continued supporting the program.

Who benefits from the WIL activity and how?

Between 2018 – 2020, a total of 117 students and over 50 industry partners have been key beneficiaries of GABI. As participant Reid Plehan highlighted: “I had a great experience with TIQ, the internship challenged me to trust in my learnt knowledge and helped me to develop my problem-solving skills through a practical output.” In-direct beneficiaries include our Griffith Alumni in Asia and the wider community through which our interns contribute, especially through non-for-profit-organisations. As Crossroads Foundation in Hong Kong testified, “We are thankful that Auguste is keen to continue her involvement even following her internship, as we will benefit from her insights. Thanks for Griffith University’s support with quality interns!”

How does the activity embed successful evaluation processes?

Academic evaluation and industry participation are central in all activities. Students complete three purpose-driven assessments, including a Country and Sector Portfolio, a Reflective Journal, and a Presentation. Reflection throughout the program is central and guided through regular workshops. A Host Supervisor Report is filled in by the industry partner to provide feedback on the student performance and the GABI program overall. Industry partners and country specialists are also invited to a networking event and the presentations by the students to provide comments and feedback. Student as well as industry feedback is used in an annual review of the program to inform the design of key content, assessments, and industry events. Throughout the program several surveys are conducted to further improve GABI. 

What are the broader/longer term impacts for stakeholders?

Long-term impacts for students include improved prospects for employment as they gain essential soft skills, including cross-cultural communication and digital capabilities skills as well as a thorough understanding of the importance of Asia for Australia’s economy. Students also receive a Host Supervisor Report indicating their strengths and can use the industry partner as a referee often beneficial in a competitive graduate market. In some cases, students gained employment with the company or were recommended to branches in Australia. Long-term impacts on the industry include well-trained and resilient graduates as well as ongoing connections to the next generation of leaders. 

How is the WIL activity integrated into curricula?

GABI is central to the curricula, targeting both undergraduate and postgraduate students across the whole Griffith Business School and beyond encouraging all students, independent of discipline to become Asia literate. Well-established industry partnerships are in place combined with a comprehensive Asia-Ready-Program prior to the placement, including cultural awareness and language classes alongside business council roundtables, industry partner webinars and guest speakers. After the program, a debriefing workshop focuses on facilitating reflections on the program, including how to nurture developed relationships and ways to successfully apply the skills learned. The program also provides leadership opportunities for students by becoming ambassadors for the program. Ambassadors support the program in promoting GABI to future students, through videos, sharing insights in info sessions, and engaging with industry partners in networking events.

How is it informed by relevant theoretical or empirical literature, research and/or scholarship?

Recruiters highlight that the pandemic has made interning even more important to land a professional job (Dill, 2021). Potts (2020) supports this further highlighting that over 70 percent of respondents who did a WIL program mentioned that their international experience had a positive impact on obtaining their first job. Similarly, today as never before, COVID-19 has highlighted the interconnectedness of the region and the whole world. Seven out of Australia’s top ten two-way trading partners are all in Asia, showcasing Asia’s importance to Australia’s economy, society and people through business, migration, and people to people links (DFAT, 2019). 

Dill, K (2021), The Wall Street Journal, Do You Need to Do an Internship Before You Graduate From College?
DFAT (2019), Australia’s top 10 two-way trading partners, https://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/resources/trade-at-a-glance/Documents/index.html

Potts, D. (2020), Career outcomes of learning abroad: national report, International Education Association of Australia (IEAA)

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

GABI will continue as a remote option in 2021 with the aim to double participant numbers to provide more students and industry partners the opportunity to join. If international travel re-opens, the intention is to offer remote options alongside the traditional in-country internship. This flexibility provides an alternative option for students with, for example, carer responsibilities, who are from disadvantaged backgrounds or students who work part-time or full-time and cannot leave Australia for extended periods. Providing this access to WIL through GABI is important to ensure all interested students can experience an Asian engagement opportunity.