The following is an interview with Diana Chowdhury, who runs Alliance Abroad Group’s Work Experience Australia Program. Originally from Boston, she studied abroad at the International College of Management Sydney, Down Under and fell for the Aussie culture.
You’re part of the team at Alliance Abroad Group. Tell us in a nutshell what AAG is and a little bit about your role there.
AAG is a cultural exchange company dedicated to connecting, enriching, and empowering the global community one person at a time. And, we’ve been the leader in international recruitment, changing the lives of over 10,000 participants and providing growth opportunities to more than 800 employers in the United States since 1992. I’m proud to announce AAG’s new Work Experience Australia program as the Global Business Development Manager. I manage placement/matching individuals to employers in Australia. I look forward to scheduling preliminary interviews and meeting prospective participants before I pass them on for their final interview with an Australian employer!
AAG has recently partnered with Tourism Australia and Tourism Queensland to launch the new program! This unique program connects university students and recent graduates directly with tourism employers across Australia. I will place participants in the most elite hospitality jobs across the wondrous Great Barrier Reef for up to six months. Students who wish to extend their stay may work for an additional 6 months under a new employer. This is a win-win program. Participants will gain an invaluable professional experience working with international clientele on behalf of top 4 and 5 star resorts while earning at least $18 an hour. Not to mention, participants will spend their free time snorkeling with sea turtles, learning how to surf, and more!
You were a participant in the program. What motivated you to venture to Australia?
Freshman year of my undergrad, I met one of my closest friends, an Australian girl named Zara. There was something different about Zara than my other classmates, from her work ethic to her sense of humor. Zara had this “No worries” attitude that I did not quite understand. I longed to meet more people like Zara- gifted with positive energy and so content with the little things in life. I promised her I’d come see Australia.
I decided to venture outside of Boston and study abroad at the International College of Management, Sydney. Immediately, I was fascinated by the stunning beaches, Aussie accents, and Hakuna Matata outlook on life. I built long-lasting relationships with the locals and people from all over the world. After graduation and restless job searching, I knew nothing would make me happier than returning to Australia. I returned to
Australia for work and gained a deeper appreciation for Aussie living. Working with the locals allowed for the most hands on cultural immersion I have ever experienced.
What was your most memorable moment during your time in the program?
My best memories are snorkeling and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. One day out on the reef, the scuba instructors thought it would be funny to throw fish food overboard while I was still left in the water. Before I knew it, I felt hundreds of pokes all along my body from every direction. The instructors screamed “Look down under”. I thought they were crazy and I was hesitant, but I could not miss out. I dipped back under the water, and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. There were an array of fish different colors, sizes, and shapes all surrounding my body. Instantly, I fell in love with marine life. I kept my eyes peeled praying that my eyelids would not shutter and miss a moment of the vibrant color. It was surreal.
Had you ever lived abroad before going to work in Australia? What was the immersion in Australian culture like?
Growing up, I spent my summers in South Asia with my father at his Bangladeshi village. My experience living abroad in Australia was very different than living in Bangladesh. In Australia, I was independent from all of my family members. Although, I was alone I never felt homesick as I did in Bangladesh. I did not have time to miss home. For me, the Aussie culture was very easy to assimilate to. There’s no significant language barrier and the people are incredibly inviting- once you understand their sense of humor.
Some of my best mates were almost mean to me when I first met them. I played the role of the overly sensitive American and did not understand why this bloke kept making fun of me. I was quick to realize, if Aussies aren’t teasing you- they don’t like you. It’s like that kid flicking rubber bands at you in second grade. “It’s all good banter” my mate Jimmy would say. My final advice is to be open-minded and try that piece of kangaroo. The more you are willing to step outside your box, the more respect you will gain!
Anything else you’d like to share about the program?
This is the first program where young professionals are guaranteed a job before they even step on Australian soil. Working with AAG is your next step to making yourself stand out. This is the best strategy to help you nail a job when you get home. You’re showing employers that you have what it takes to adapt to today’s diverse workplaces. You prove your independence and enhance your communication skills. You become more appealing to any employer and you have fun in the sun while doing so. Get paid, become a global citizen, and have the chance to cuddle a koala in the process? It’s a no-brainer.
Diana Chowdhury, the newest addition to Alliance Abroad Group, is a young professional from Boston. She is a graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a Bachelors in social and behavioral sciences. To learn more about communications and economics from an international perspective Diana studied abroad at the International College of Management Sydney, Down Under. Falling for the Aussie culture, Diana believes that there is far more to her second home than pretty beaches and vegemite. However, every now and then she craves a cup of clam chowder from her hometown. She has a passion for marine life and scuba diving. Traveling and immersing in new cultures is her pursuit of happiness. Well, that’s Diana in a clam shell!
Connect with Diana via the Alliance Abroad Tripping Network.