Volunteer Connect

A regional work integrated learning program

Volunteer Connect connects international students at Southern Cross University with local, regional employers to take part in a work integrated learning experience.

Project Dates

October 2017-June 2018

Project overview

Volunteer Connect is an employability program run by Southern Cross University. The program connects international students with local businesses during the student’s first months in NSW to gain workplace experience and learn about workplace culture in Australia. Students participate in a number of workshops on workplace culture in NSW, are assigned a mentor and are then matched with a local host organisation to complete 15 hours of traditional work experience of complete a culturally relevant project.  The local, regional businesses who sign up for the program learn about the value of international students and build mutually beneficial relationships.

Project background

The program was developed to address employment challenges faced by regional international students in NSW. By providing international students with workplace capabilities, connections and experiences at the start of their studies, students would develop confidence and workplace skills to build a strong foundation for post-graduate employment.


Project highlights

Students either undertook a traditional work experience model of shadowing employees at local businesses or completed a project for regional employers that utilised their experience as an international student. Two examples of the latter include North American students providing insight to a Tweed River company (Catch the Crab) on the use of social media to reach your target audience and Chinese students creating a marketing plan for the Chinese market for a Northern Rivers gourmet food producer (Brookfarm).

Project outcomes

Students gained workplace culture awareness and employability skills through the program. The students and Southern Cross University developed strong partnerships with local businesses. These businesses learnt about the benefits of international students and many have become Volunteer Connect Champions, pledging support for future programs.

Project deliverables

The program provided interactive training on workplace culture to 83 international students from ten countries including China, India, Nepal, Germany, Japan and the USA. 63 students opted to be matched with a mentor and 64 students completed the work integrated learning placement with a regional employer. The program developed a database of over 30 ‘international student friendly’ employers in the region and created a training fact sheet for employers on making the most of hosting an international student.

Challenges and recommendations

Initially finding local businesses interested in the program. Timetable clashes for students.

Further information

Visit Southern Cross University’s Volunteer Connect Program.