John Richardson shares his experience as an intern at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry

In 2017 a number of students studying at Victorian education providers were chosen to participate in the newly created Victoria India Internship Program. The program, hosted by the Australia India Institute in Melbourne and the Australia India Institute @Delhi and supported by the Victorian Government’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources gave students the opportunity to work for Indian organisation based in Melbourne and India.  To learn more about internship opportunities, please email

Q: Tell us a little about your internship, your duties and how you heard about it?

A: I heard about the Australia India Institute’s internship program from one of the Institute’s newsletters. I’m near the end of my Master of International Relations at The University of Melbourne and am looking to get as much experience as possible. I applied and was thrilled to be placed at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), which is one of India’s top industry groups.

I worked at FICCI for 8-weeks in early 2017. I was in the international division with a focus on ASEAN and Oceania, and my internship involved researching and writing briefing papers, helping coordinate events and working on a publication to highlight the success of Indian businesses operating in Australia and vice-versa.

Q: What was the work environment like at your internship?

A: Very welcoming and supportive. I had a great supervisor in Dr Gunveena Chadha, as well as other colleagues from the ASEAN desk who were always available to help out and answer questions. Everyone else I encountered at FICCI – which has 400+ employees in Delhi – was very welcoming. People kept talking about the difference in work culture between Australia and India, but this was never a hindrance to my internship and added to the experience.

Q: What surprised you about the internship?

A: At FICCI there were always different events going on, so I was surprised by how diverse my experiences were in that regard. I attended seminars on issues as varied as India’s agricultural cooperation with China to India-Pakistan relations and India’s domestic defence industry.

I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed Delhi. I had been there once before only briefly and hadn’t enjoyed it. But this time I put in some research about the best areas to stay and how to commute to the internship. The metro system is far better than Melbourne’s public transport and my accommodation in South Delhi was excellent. There was always plenty to do away from the internship as well. I actually got a bit carried away and applied for a job there but couldn’t meet the visa requirements!

Q: What was a mistake you made that may assist other interns finding work in the same industry? What was the lesson you learnt?

A: I suppose if anything not putting myself out there enough. For an experience like an overseas internship it’s important to get as much out of it as possible. I asked to be included in certain events and to meet as many people as possible but I could have been more outgoing. I guess the lesson is don’t be afraid to ask. There are always going to be people interested and willing to help you develop your skills and experiences.

Q: When you talk to people about your internship what’s the first thing you tell them?

A: Beyond how much I enjoyed the whole experience, I would emphasize how diverse India is and how unlikely it is to fit stereotypes or your preconceptions. It’s not as different or unusual as you might expect. Especially in a city like Delhi, there is so much going on and there’s bound to be something for everyone.

So if you don’t think your area of interest or study is likely to fit with an internship in India, you’re probably mistaken. The country is so big, diverse and rapidly changing, it’s sure to accommodate a wide range of interests.

Q: What skills did you gain from the internship?

A: As well as consolidating my research and writing skills from university, I think the internship helped build my interpersonal and liaison skills. Meeting a wide variety of people at different events and speaking with stakeholders, especially regarding the Australia-India business mapping publication I mentioned, was really valuable for these areas.

I also learnt a little Hindi to the point I was able to rickshaw drivers to use the meter in Hindi!

Q: What’s next for you in your career?

A: Start one. I have two more subjects to complete this year before (hopefully) starting a graduate job next year.