Work Integrated Learning (WIL)
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is a growing trend in education. WIL may also be referred to as internships or work experience. It is a partnership between a student, a business, and a University - each has an important role.
Many students find that gaining work, or ‘work-like’, experience while studying is of great benefit. This experience provides a bridge between academics and career, and WIL has been proven to enhance the educational experience of a student. Having a good knowledge of the theory of an occupation is not enough. Nowadays, students will search for opportunities to participate in their future industry in order to make their resume and job search more competitive.
As an international student, you may be very interested in gaining work experience to complement your Australian qualification. Many institutions are now making WIL part of the curriculum. You may or may not be paid for this work.
Benefits of WIL to students
There are many advantages to participating in a WIL program. These include:
- using the theory you are learning in the classroom in the workplace
- developing an understanding of the management structure within your industry
- discovering your strengths and weaknesses - and build on these
- building your confidence and communication skills
- having the opportunity to experience the career you are pursuing - this gives you the opportunity to shift programs should you find the industry does not inspire you
- developing work experience for your resume
- meeting new people and build your career network
- developing hands-on workplace skills that may not be addressed in the classroom
- learning new things to take back to your home country
Benefits of WIL to businesses
Many industries in Australia support WIL, including:
- business administration
- building & construction
- graphic & industrial design
- plus many more...
Work Integrated Learning is becoming more popular in the Australian workplace. In the past, it was mainly accounting, law and consulting firms that participated in these programs. However, more and more industries are getting involved. Companies want to attract the best and the brightest students in order to remain competitive and innovative. Benefits to participating company include:
- access to eager and aspirational young people
- an understanding of new trends in the industry
- pipeline to future employees - including international students who may want to work for the same company when he or she returns to their home country
What to expect when doing Work Integrated Learning
A good workplace experience should allow the student to work with different employees, and have different day-to-day experiences. However, you will be assigned to a supervisor and should have a clearer description of what you role will entail. Depending on the company, you may be given a lot of independence or you may work in a very controlled environment.
It is important to remember that the key purpose of being in a WIL program is to develop your skills. If you do not feel that you are being nurtured, or that you are being taken advantage of, this should be reported to your educational institution as soon as possible. During your time in the program, the institution and the workplace will be in regular contact to track your progress.
Responsibilities of students:
You will be expected to do your best with the following:
- your position must be treated with respect, and you must follow company rules
- act like a professional at all times
- dress in an appropriate manner - this will depend on the work environment
- always be on time
- enjoy yourself and learn as much as you can!
How to get involved in Work Integrated Learning?
Many higher education institutions in Australia will assist you to find a WIL opportunity. It may or may not be part of the curriculum of your program. In programs such as teaching and nursing there is an expectation that the school will find you a school or hospital where you will do training time. For other programs it is up to the institution as to whether or not they assist students with WIL opportunities.
When you are considering a college or university in Australia, find out about its WIL program. This may affect your decision about which school to attend. Ask your education agent or the school directly about programs offered.