Dartmouth University student CJ Hughes had a business internship at a boutique hotel chain in Sydney this fall. This post is unedited, and direct from the intern.
Living in the housing, a really nice student hostel in Kings Cross is simply awesome. There are tons of kids here from Europe so you'll get to meet a lot of different people, especially since you meet their friends too so the network is huge!
I'm working at a boutique hotel firm, with 19 properties total (17 in AUS, 2 elsewhere). I'm at the head office in Surrey Hills, a nice trendy and hip suburb about 20 min walk from King's Cross. Here I'm doing Human Resources, which I never thought I would venture into but I totally LOVE it. At least at this company, you jump right into it and they give you the autonomy and responsibility that a full time employee would have. I get to sit at the CEO's desk and work from there sometimes (how awesome is that???!!!) but my main responsibilities here are posting job adverts, making fake reservations at hotels to do employee assessments, reading through contracts, CV's, representing us at career fairs, etc. and I've taken my own initiative to bring a sustainability campaign to the company as well. They really love to hear your ideas and there is ZERO authoritative complex here. An intern is not an intern, but an integral piece of the company.
My advice for Australia, especially living downtown...being conversant in a foreign language is advantageous as I've met TONS of people who speak French and being able to speak with them in their native language allows them to open up right away as many people come here to take English classes and could potentially be intimidated at first because they lack the vocabulary to converse without feeling pressured.
The people here are VERY chill, outgoing, and will engage in conversation spontaneously with strangers (not everyone, but enough of them). I've met good mates out on the streets...that doesn't generally happen back in LA, nor at school really. It's also been a great time to meet working people and those outside of uni and academia. It's great to hear peoples life stories, hobbies, etc. that don't revolve around the Dartmouth bubble. It's simply transformative and you learn a lot about yourself if you really want it.
Admittedly, food and things are pretty pricey but I've extended my stay until after New Year's so I'm spending an extra months worth of money. One of the local grocery stores, Coles, has great prices for food though so if you make a practical list, don't eat out all the time, and spend money at a club every single weekend then you should be perfectly fine. Plus, you can walk many places too so it's not that bad getting around if you don't want to pay for the metro.
The sights are beautiful but admittedly I haven't seen THAT much yet. I'm not the touristy type and prefer to take the road less traveled for lack of a better phrase. I have a few pictures from my first day but I haven't taken much beyond that. Too many jokes, smiles, laughs to whip out my camera...which I have to say is a good thing :P
GE’s impact on my future career pursuits:
I realize just how much I love hospitality now and want to hopefully do the same next summer but hopefully in Stockholm, Sweden. Being abroad for the first time, I am still so new to it all but having so many international friends back home, it was only a matter of time until I ventured out of the States. Long story short, I find life aboard to be addictive, a requirement for me (oh these last two years at uni will be tough!), and I welcome culture shock with open arms. It was actually a strong motive for interning aboard. I just like experience whether it be language, smells, sights, sounds, etc. Back to the point of this paragraph… since I get so much responsibility here, I can have a valid assessment of what HR is and if it would make me happy in the long run. I feel that I could do HR in most places since this experience is pretty comparable across industries I would assume. That being said, I have TONS of interests so if it isn't hotels for me than I want to explore the realm of e-commerce, viticulture (wine) or sustainability given my broad interests regarding industries and locales.
In short: JUST DO IT!!!!