Conversations on Studying Abroad

Learning Beyond the Classroom With CAPA Internships & Field Trips

Feb 25, 2019 11:45:00 AM / by Elizabeth Westermeyer

In this week's post, Lizzy talks about what it's like to intern at the Leukaemia Foundation in Sydney and the lessons she's picking up along the way. Follow along as she takes us through her day and what she's been doing for the foundation's World's Greatest Shave campaign. In addition to getting real world experience, Lizzy points out how beneficial field trips and Globally Networked Learning are to acquainting yourself locally and communicating globally. Check out the professional tips and advice she has for aspiring students!

For my internship, I got placed at the Leukaemia Foundation (LF). A typical day to my internship starts off with me waking up around 7 A.M. to head to Central Station by 8 A.M. and get to the office by 9 A.M. In the beginning, there’s a lot of instruction for getting used to the online systems they use and how things play out at the office, who to report to, what to do if there’s not a specific task given to you, etc... After the first couple of weeks, I’ve learned (most) names at the office and know what to do right away.

TrainThis is the train I take at Artarmon Station.

I got placed with another student from CAPA, and we hit the ground running with the task of contacting community groups to host a World’s Greatest Shave BBQ at Bunnings across New South Wales. World’s Greatest Shave is one of the many campaigns that the LF runs every year and touches home for a lot of Australians because about 35 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer every day (more info here). LF is a non-profit organization that is also well-known within Australia so it’s a humbling opportunity to make a difference from a foundational level with the guidance of a “corporate” office.

Intern deskMy own desk at the LF office.

I’m realizing quickly that an internship abroad will not only boost your resume for the upcoming job search but also give you a fresh, globalized perspective that will prepare you for the evolving workplace back home (or anywhere you end up). Being a part of an organization abroad can increase your adaptability and awareness for what and who is around you. It also gives you “real world” experience like having to adjust to teamwork, deadlines, company policies, and a tough mentality.

Train ViewThe view from the train while on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on my way to and from my internship.

CAPA does a tremendous job of trying their best to place you where you want to be. Other CAPA students have all different positions at companies throughout the city like Newport Capital Group, a financial advisory firm, Paragon Media publishing house, InteractiveInc.—a digital recruitment company, FreedomHub nonprofit cafe, Me&My Wellness, Maven Dental, the Sydney Rugby team, and more. No matter the placement, the experience is going to be a valuable one. You will at least learn what you do and don’t like in a workplace and will sharpen your soft skills by working with new people, oftentimes with different backgrounds than you. The one piece of advice I give to you and one that they will emphasize at CAPA orientation which helps you get the most out of your internship is this: have an open mind. This opportunity is what you make of it and will only get out of it what you put in to it.

Tip: apply for internships that you want back home (if they’re open and if you have time) before you arrive in your study abroad country to save the stress and time that could otherwise be spent on exploring. You can apply what you’ve learned at this internship abroad at a company back home and it gives you something interesting to discuss during interviews!

Internship EventAn out-of-office internship event at Fair Day @ Victoria Park helping out by coloring people’s hair and collecting donations for the World’s Greatest Shave!

Another aspect to the CAPA experience is the learning that occurs outside the CAPA center, whether through field trips or Globally Network Learning (GNL). In just the last few weeks, I’ve been on two field trips and have been able to communicate with other CAPA students in London on a class project! The GNL exercises give you that “real world” experience by working with others that are hours away but all working toward the same goal, while the field trips are a nice switch-up from the usual classroom learning and an educational way to learn about the city.

Botanical Gardens PanoramaA panoramic shot of the Botanical Gardens.

During one field trip, we got a guided tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens and saw numerous endangered species of indigenous and non-indigenous plants and how their efforts help maintain and develop the Australian fauna that is still here today. Just to share something (nerdy) we learned: they showed us a tree that they are propagating, called the Wollemi Pine, in the attempt to save it from complete extinction due to natural disasters or seed stealers. It has only been found in one place just west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains and has the nickname “dinosaur plant” because the only trees like it have only been discovered through fossils that were formed during the time of the dinosaurs. Very few people know the location of where it was found and they’re hoping to keep it that way.

Wollemi PineWollemi Pine.

The other field trip we went on was to the Library of New South Wales. The place is not just a library but also has artifacts from Australian history. It’s also a free space so if you’re looking for somewhere to get work done, this is a quiet and quite beautiful place to do it.

NSW LibraryNSW Library.

Whether you’re in the office, in the CAPA center, or out exploring Sydney, make sure to stop and take it all in. The weeks go by so much faster than you anticipate, so it’s crucial you take advantage of any opportunity you get. Chat with coworkers, professors, locals. Take the train to a new beach, city street, restaurant—there’s so much to do that there’s no such thing as being bored. Realize and reflect on where you are—in a new country! I’m so thankful to be here, along with that, being able to study and intern here.

Thanks for reading :)

Thanks, Lizzy!

Lizzy Westermeyer


Lizzy Westermeyer is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2019, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Business Management major at Providence College, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Lizzy's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Sydney, Australia, Internships Abroad