Australians in international design careers?

Hi all! (First time poster, long time reader)

I’m ending near my double degree in Bachelor of (Mechanical) Engineering and Bachelor of (Industrial) Design at Monash University here in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve done my research and thinking over the last 4-5 years to know that I want to get into design innovation industry. After attending some seminars, I was constantly told that since I’m still young, I really should get out and go to places such as the US or the UK (where the industry is really taking off) and start there. Sounds like a good plan.

Now geographically, I understand that I am far, but it shouldn’t be a limitation for understanding how to cross the giant puddles of water to find a career in those places. However none of my academics really have a clear idea of what it takes to get over there, so here I am trying to find out more.

My concerns is understanding expectations and requirements to start working abroad. Firstly education - Australian universities tend end student education with bachelor degrees, with Masters and PhD really for academics (read note 1 below). Skill-wise, we’re equal to a masters degree student, however on paper, I can imagine a HR rep flicking through countless resumes and going “hmm… no masters degree, reject!”. For international recognition alone, is it worthwhile to look into getting a post graduate degree overseas in a more recognised country than Australia? (I would avoid doing a masters degree in Australia just for paper accreditation). Or at the end of the day, are design innovation firms really looking down on a good portfolio and resume and a winning interview?

There’s a disconnect with the Australian system and the rest of the world, so can someone educate me in terms of what is the masters system, and why do employers look for masters degrees opposed to bachelor degrees?

I’ve got plenty of questions, but I think this is the first step. The next step is to figure out where to apply to (which I’m sure everyone else will be chasing as well) If there are any ex-pats around these forums who have had these questions and lived the solution out, I very much welcome your feedback!


Note 1 - Australia hasn’t really caught on the master degree system yet, which is good because it means that local students who want to work in local industries just need bachelor degrees (which are heavily subsided by the government) to get a job until they hit a point where they need a MBA or further training. I did a small stint in Sweden in a Masters of Product Design and Engineering, and I noticed that we cover everything an Australian bachelor degree teaches, so if the trend is the same across the rest of the EU, it would seem likely that ‘off-paper’, a bachelor degree is the same as an international masters, without the masters degree label on it. Also we study the same time at university - double degree is 5 years, with a normal single degree being 4 years, quite similar to a masters degree in Engineering across Australia.

Have you considered an internship?

I’m doing an EUSA one with an ID firm in San Francisco through UniSA (still to hear where I’m going though) and I know LaTrobe do them as well.

Costs a bit, unpaid (part of the student visa requirements), but the benefit is you get a place. Beats trying to apply from overseas and not even getting a response. Once over there you could network to try and arrange something else.

I’m with Monash at the moment… I’m trying something something this year called IAESTE which is engineering based. I will look into EUSA though… if you’re at a industrial design firm, I’m curious to see that more.

Money isn’t a problem at the moment… so something like this looks good.! How did you find the application process?

The EUSA application process is very easy, the J1 visa process appears straightforward. The gentleman who I met from the program (from University of California, Berkeley) was really helpful. What you pay covers everything except food, fun and flights.

The only hiccup at the moment is I don’t know where I’m going, but when I gave a list of Bay Area firms I’d like to intern at, he looked at the list and said something like “yep, yep, uh-huh, I know so-and-so there…I’ve put people there before…those guys are good”, so it looks really promising.

that sounds pretty amazing. I sent an email to EUSA and basically they told me to contact the colleges themselves, which … well I don’t exactly know what that means. Are you going through your university? I’m wondering if I don’t have ‘blessing’ from my university, will that prevent me from getting a visa?

I’ll take the next step and see how I go. Good luck with getting placed somewhere.

How does the program actually work? From what I could tell, you apply to a college, but then it doesn’t say much more after that. Is it just an ‘exchange’ college helping you out find a job, or do you work at their university?

I think your Uni has to run a program in partnership with EUSA, so if they don’t have one organised, I don’t know how you’d arrange it rather than just contact them.

Does anyone else know of organisations that you can pay to organise internships/ work experience overseas?