Australia. Kangaroos and Internship Woos.

This Summer, for eight weeks from May-July to be exact, I spent interning at a company called “Morningstar” in Sydney, Australia.  The internship, which was 40 hours a week, was an amazing learning experience and I was truly able to put my knowledge to the test.  I didn’t simply intern in Australia though, I also went on multiple excursions to explore the beautiful Australian landscape.

Before this whole endeavor though, I have never truly lived on my own: never had to cook for myself, manage a budget, or done a “real” internship experience before.  So, I was ready to gain a glimpse about what it means to be in the “real world.”  Over the course of the 8 weeks, I definitely learned more about myself and I ultimately think I matured because of it.

Australia is not “that different” in comparison to the United States.  Sydney, is actually like a resemblance of Chicago.  So, it wasn’t much of a culture shock when I stepped foot into the country after the 16 hour flight.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t need to get adjusted though, and I had to learn about what is “normal” in Australia.  I had to accept other people’s reasons for doing things, for example, I had to be patient while waiting for horrific restaurant service or listen to others in the workplace that had more knowledge than me.  Whatever it may be, I realized that I was a guest in this country, and I had to absorb as much cultural and operational (worked in the operations department) knowledge as I could.

One thing to note about Australia, is that everything is insanely expensive.  I realized from the very beginning, that if I wanted to have enough money to take weekend excursions, I could not order food for every meal.  With that being said, I went to the grocery store for the first time on my own, and bought enough food for me to make, allowing me to save enough money to experience the true Australian culture on the weekends.  This management of a budget, even though new to me, was crucial, and now back at School, I’m able to take this knowledge with me as I begin to live semi on my own (no meal plan).

Moreover, the workplace in Australia, gave me great insight in how to interact professionally and reasonably with industry leaders and coworkers.  The first day I got to Morningstar, I didn’t think I acted as professionally as I should have.  My boss was conducting a general “get to know me” meeting with me one-on-one, when another member of the office stepped in.  My boss and him started conversing with one another, and when he left, I shouted “My name is Charlie by the way, I’m sure I’ll see you around.”  It may not sound as bad as it is, but I felt that I should’ve acted differently on my first day.  As time went on, I displayed class and generosity towards my coworkers, and made sure that I held myself to a high standard.  I think my coworkers noticed that, and I was able to carry this demeanor to interactions outside of the workplace.   This was a great learning tool for me, both helping me in and out of the office.

Additionally, I was able to gain valuable insight on what it takes to be successful.  I worked my tail off at my internship, and focused whole-heartedly on my tasks that my boss and her boss gave me.  Some interns didn’t take the experience as “seriously” as I did, in some instances, so I was more motivated to excel on the job to stand out.  I think my work ethic definitely increased because of this internship, and a great work ethic can be useful for any part of your life.

All these instances that approached me while in Australia, were a mechanism for knowledge, that I can take with me while at school or anywhere else.  A hard work ethic, professionalism, balancing budgets, quality interactions, etc. will allow me to become more successful as a operations business student in school, but also as a member of today’s society.  I believe employers and regular everyday individuals seek out those that display quality characteristics, and all aspects of Australia (at work, night life, in apartment, etc.) helped me to develop such qualities.  I will never forget this experience that I was fortunate to live this past summer, and STEP definitely helped to make it possible.

kangaroo selfieMorningstar Investment Conference with Interns