kathryn intern india

Kathryn Morrison on interning at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry

kathryn intern india

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

I found about the Australia India Institute’s internship through the University of Melbourne careers page. Despite studying a Master of International Relations, I previously had very limited opportunity to learn about India and so an internship seemed like an ideal way to broaden my knowledge and gain practical experience. I applied and was offered an internship at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), one of India’s oldest and largest industry groups.

I interned at FICCI in the international division’s ASEAN and Oceania team for three months in late 2018. As an intern at FICCI, I researched opportunities for engagement between India and ASEAN across various industry sectors and assisted in preparation and logistics for a wide range of events. These included strategy discussions about security in the Indo-Pacific, international delegations of tech and start-up representatives to Australia and New Zealand, and business-to-business meetings between Indian industry leaders on cooperation with Mekong-Ganga countries, among many others!

What was the work environment like at your internship?

FICCI was an incredibly busy workplace, with the ASEAN and Oceania team holding a large number of events and producing extensive reports during my time there. However, despite the fast-paced nature of the organisation, everyone was incredibly welcoming and supportive, and made me feel very included. I was encouraged to ask plenty of questions about different areas of FICCI and attend regular events outside my specific work region.

My colleagues took the time to introduce me to Indian culture, including sharing a wide range of foods, chats about the differences and similarities between Australia and India, and gave me plenty advice about living and traveling in India. I was also invited to participate in the office’s Diwali events and festivities, including decorating the workspaces with lights and diyas, and wearing traditional dress.

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

My main takeaway from this internship is that India is well on the way realising its immense potential in industry, diplomacy, and as a world leader. It is a unique country and one that we, as Australians, should be watching closely and attempt to understand better. As an intern at FICCI, I had the opportunity to research areas of shared interests in Australasia and the Indo-Pacific. Doing so illustrated the common concerns, challenges, and prospects that face Australia and India, and highlighted that there is much we can learn from one another.

The other thing I tell people is about the experiences I gained out of the office. Interning overseas gives you the opportunity to learn more than just day-to-day work duties, and I would strongly recommend that any intern explore other opportunities to experience India’s culture. As I was doing a longer internship, I had the chance to travel on my weekends and was able to explore Delhi and travel through Rajasthan, West Bengal, and to Agra. Beyond seeing India’s remarkable heritage and natural sites, I had the chance to meet people from different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives – giving me a little more of an insight into the challenges, opportunities, and potential for the country.

What surprised you about the internship?

My work and role was far more substantive and significant than I could have imagined! Unlike internships where one is relegated to doing solely administrative duties, at FICCI I always felt like a valued member of the team, working on the same projects and deliverables as my colleagues. It was incredibly rewarding to see research I’d conducted or points I’d written being included in official reports and speeches. Interning at FICCI was therefore an unparalleled opportunity to gain real world work experience and knowledge that I will take into my future career.

What advice would you give future applicants?

I would strongly encourage future interns to prioritise learning as much of the language as possible when interning in India. I regret not being more diligent in developing Hindi skills, and while it can be difficult to juggle full time work and other commitments, language ability would have opened up more opportunities, given greater insights and improved my experience.

What skills did you gain from the internship?

Working for FICCI gave me a great opportunity to hone my research skills. Navigating a different country’s government databases, industry records, and media reports was initially challenging, however over the course of the internship I became very confident in synthesising and verifying information from a wide variety of sources. Research also had to be conducted quickly and efficiently, to keep up with event and report deadlines, which proved to be a valuable learning curve.

I also gained experience writing talking points – a writing style I had not previously used. Condensing extensive and dense information into an engaging and concise speech took practice, but is now a valuable skill for future written communication tasks.

Regardless of what organisation you’re working with, interning overseas develops resilience, independence, and the ability to operate effectively in cross-cultural environments. I am confident these skills will be invaluable throughout my career, particularly given that I hope to work internationally in the future.

What’s next for you in your career?

Following my internship with FICCI, I graduated from the University of Melbourne and am due to commence the Treasury graduate program in Canberra in February.