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Tertiary student internships

This information relates only to internships and doesn't apply to traineeships, cadetships or graduate programs


The Department for Education supports universities so that undergraduate and postgraduate students can undertake internships.

An internship helps students gain valuable employability skills, increase confidence, build professional networks, understand workplace expectations and build specific industry knowledge. Internships may also contribute to a student’s transition to employment.

Internships help the department access new or additional skills and knowledge. This could include technological advances, new policy ideas, innovations or a cultural understanding of different countries or regions.

Internships are:

  • voluntary (not paid)
  • supervised on-the-job experiences
  • undertaken by students
  • part or full-time
  • during or outside university teaching periods
  • generally for a total of 15 to 20 days, that can be spread over several weeks.

Interns don't get paid during their internship and are not employees of the SA Government. These conditions ensure compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Volunteers Protection Act 2001.


Any enrolled student engaged in a course of study with an accredited higher education or VET provider can apply for an internship with the department. Students can be from public or private providers.

Ideally interns have completed 12 months of their course and are undertaking the internship as part of a work-integrated learning component of that course (ie an activity or program that integrates academic learning with its application in the workplace). Internships can contribute to a student’s academic record, be non-credit bearing, compulsory or optional.

The department can host interns from a range of university disciplines: 

  • social work
  • psychology
  • public health
  • occupational therapy
  • health science
  • nutrition or dietetics
  • speech pathology
  • computer science and IT
  • law, government or political studies
  • human services, eg HR
  • business and economics
  • writing and communications
  • sociology
  • infrastructure-related disciplines, eg architecture or WHS
  • data and information-related disciplines, eg maths
  • entrepreneurship.

There may be other areas of study that could be appropriate.


The department works with South Australian universities to offer a regular cycle of internship opportunities.

Internships are usually negotiated twice a year:

  • in January or February for semester 1 internships
  • July or August for semester 2 internships.

We welcome enquiries outside of these times, however success is more likely through the regular cycle.

How to get an internship

Internships can be started by:

  • a state government agency seeking an intern for a project
  • a student seeking an internship for themselves
  • a university seeking internships for their students.

If you're a university student seeking an internship, contact your supervisor or your university’s internship coordinator.

For university staff members:

What interns do

Tasks can vary depending on the intern’s specialisation, but they should be exposed to:

  • project work including project conceptualisation, research and report writing
  • working with clients, including meetings, shadowing, and follow-up work after meetings with clients
  • administration including reception, briefings and responding to emails.

A 70:20:10 rule is helpful:

  • 70% of time spent on discipline-specific project work
  • 20% participation in wider team activities
  • 10% on administrative and procedural tasks.

An internship is not a placement

Many university disciplines require students to complete compulsory professional experience placements. Placements are highly structured workplace experiences that often include assessment against professional and clinical standards, for example:

  • Students enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing must do prescribed clinical placements in different practice settings, with close supervision by health care practitioners.
  • Engineering students must do engineering placements under the supervision of a qualified engineer.
  • Teaching students must do a structured program of placements within primary and secondary schools to complete their program.

While placements are a type of internship, they are discipline-specific and highly regulated. Placements are through established relationships between university faculties and the relevant employment industries.

If you're not sure if you or a student are seeking a placement or an internship opportunity, contact either the university supervisor or our internships coordinator.

Roles and responsibilities

Each intern is assigned a university-based supervisor and a department-based mentor. 


    • complete the agreed project in the timeframe indicated to the best of their ability
    • complete all administrative requirements prior to, during and after the internship
    • seek assistance from their supervisor and department mentor as necessary.

    The university supervisor:

    • provides advice to the department and the intern to ensure that the intern’s academic requirements are met
    • monitors and reviews the progress of each intern as appropriate.

    The department mentor:

    • develops and implements the internship plan and placement agreement
    • meets the administrative requirements of hosting an intern
    • provides corporate knowledge and insights to the intern
    • liaises with the university supervisor to ensure that any academic requirements of the internship are met.

    The department internship coordinator:

    • provides internship information and templates for agencies and universities
    • provides a point of contact and advice for the department, universities and students
    • monitors and continually improves internship activity across the department.

    Examples of past internships in the department

    • review of the Minister’s Discretionary Fund (External Relations directorate, Grants unit)
    • analysis of higher education data (External Relations directorate, Advisory unit)
    • measuring stakeholder engagement (External Relations directorate, Stakeholder Engagement unit)
    • developing a suite of branded promotion and communication material (ICT Projects directorate, Communications unit)
    • digital process improvement for a new online form (ICT Projects directorate, Applications unit)
    • connectivity in schools - future architecture renewal review (ICT Projects directorate, School Connectivity unit).

    Internship Coordinator

    Phone: 8226 2695
    EmailEducation.Internships [at] sa.gov.au