Jessica Vanderbrink - 2014 Program Participant

Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Queensland

Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef up in Cairns, Queensland. Jessica felt like a mermaid.

What made you decide to intern abroad?

I love traveling and I always have. I’ve been all over the U.S. and to Europe, but those are only two of the continents the world has to offer! I’m always thinking about my next trip overseas, to be honest.

How did you choose Australia?

This was honestly the easiest choice I’ve ever made. I have always loved Australia for some reason, maybe it’s the American girl swooning over Australian accents? Who knows. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve begged my parents to take me there. The variety of geography, the wildlife, the people, its location, everything about it has always fascinated me. So when I decided to look into working abroad, Australia was the only option for me.

Where did you stay during your time in Australia?

For the first week I stayed in a hostel while I adjusted to being in the country, working, and while I searched for an apartment. I knew I wanted to stay on my own because that was one thing I wanted to experience during this adventure. It was also the first time I’d moved away from my parents’ house. I knew I had a limited budget to work with, so I camped out on real estate websites and scheduled inspections like nobody’s business.

Visiting the Sydney Harbour Bridge

A selfie on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon with the Opera House in the background. 

Fortunately, I got a call about a studio apartment right in the CBD across from the aquarium, a block and a half away from my office. It was truly a blessing that everything worked out; I filled out the papers, got the keys, and moved in on my birthday, a week to the day after I got to Australia.

What was the most memorable experience you had while interning abroad in Australia?

All of it has left an impression on me, but the most memorable would have to be the third day of work. I was with a business development firm and we did workshops for companies to develop their skills; I would go with the consultant to the business and take notes during the discussion with the clients so that we could summarize what we came up with during sessions. The very first workshop we ever went to, the client ended up interrogating the consultant and asking what the point of our workshop was, how what we were doing was helping, and ultimately they decided to not continue working with us. It was apparently the only time it had happened to that consultant, and it was the last time it happened while I was there. Definitely unexpected to say the least!

What advice would you give to others who are interested in applying for internships in Australia?

If you have the opportunity to do it, don’t hesitate. It seems scary, but you absolutely will not regret it. Be prepared for things to not go as planned at first; it will be stressful, but you will get through it and you will be so glad you decided to do it. Australia is a beautiful country with beautiful people and it is by far the best thing I’ve ever done.

Bungee jumping in Cairns

Bungee jumping in Cairns ft. my stellar form.

If you could change one thing about your program, what would it be?

My main issue was the lack of assistance with finding housing; however, shortly before I left Australia, AAG had implemented a new portion of the program that addressed the housing process. Aside from that, I would say to be more up front about the money that interns will make. I didn’t find out what my wage would be until I was well into the application process (and after I’d paid the program fees). I’m not saying it would have changed my decision, but it would have been nice to know sooner.

How has interning abroad impacted your life?

It has absolutely changed my life. It’s changed my perspective on almost everything. I’ve met amazing people, I’ve seen and done amazing things, I’ve gained invaluable work & life experience that most people never get, and I GOT TO LIVE IN AUSTRALIA! How cool is that??