Brain Gain: internships help curb skills challenge

With skills shortages gripping the events industry, Arinex’ internship program is proving a win-win for the company and aspiring professionals.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Australia is experiencing the second worst skills shortage in the developed world, after Canada.

The ‘Great Resignation,’ which the Australian Bureau of Statistics says saw one in ten people change jobs in 2021-2022, has prevented many industries from rebounding from the pandemic.

The business events industry is one that continues to be impacted by skills shortages.

While Arinex, like many event management companies, is committed to retaining employees, the company’s internship program is also an effective tool for attracting and retaining top talent.

Introduced in 2008, the program involves twice-yearly intakes of interns for voluntary work experience; usually students undertaking study in a related field. In any given year, there are around 10 interns placed across the company.

To fit around study and other commitments, each internship consists of 15 hours per week for two-to-six months. Depending on the intern’s area of study, they are placed with an Arinex team specialising in either conference organising, incentives and special events, delegate services, sponsorship and exhibitions, technology solutions or marketing

Arinex Managing Director, Nicole Walker, said the internship program has helped Arinex mitigate future skills shortages but requires a commitment from both parties to work.

“The program requires a significant investment in time to mentor and train our interns in the workings of our business and industry,” Ms Walker said.

“Most interns have not worked in a professional environment or onsite at large-scale events. However, they come eager to learn and often bring fresh ideas and new perspectives.

“The commitment from both sides is worth it when we can offer an intern a position in the business and see them grow within the company and contribute to our success.

“If at the end of the program we feel an intern isn’t the right fit for Arinex or vice versa, then they have gained valuable experience with a reputable event management company and a clearer picture of what working in events entails.”

At the completion of the program, interns that have performed well and are the right cultural fit may be offered a position with Arinex. Of the 12 interns Arinex recruited in 2021, seven progressed to the company’s graduate program or were offered a permanent role.

The graduate program is a 12-month, fixed term paid contract that usually involves placement in at least two areas of the business before potentially gaining a permanent assistant-level role.

One of the 2021 interns, Charlie Wright, said she sought an internship with Arinex to gain the hands-on experience that would confirm she was making the right career choice.

She undertook her internship with the conference organising team before advancing to the graduate program with the delegate services team where she now works in a permanent Assistant role.

“Working with Arinex has been really rewarding as I gained the experience needed to get a feel for the industry. Although I started my internship with the conference organising team, much of what I learnt has transferred to my role in delegate services,” Ms Wright said.

“It has been great to see how different areas of the company work, and it feels very much like a community that encourages your growth and wants to see you succeed.”

Kirstie McIvor, an Operations Assistant in sponsorship and exhibitions, also commenced as an intern in 2021.

“I wanted to intern at a highly professional company that would give me experience in a wide range of tasks and platforms,” Ms McIvor said.

“The Arinex Internship Program was a great introduction to what it is like to work in a professional team environment. You see exactly how the company is run and are given great opportunities which makes the transition to full time quite smooth.”

Ms Walker said Arinex’ history of supporting its employees’ career growth has set the company apart as an employer of choice in the industry.

She speaks from experience, having joined Arinex in 2014 as a Senior Project Coordinator before progressing to executive management roles and eventually CEO in 2020. She took over ownership of the business in 2021 when Arinex’ Founder, Roslyn McLeod, retired.

“Roslyn was passionate about providing her employees with opportunities to succeed and advance their careers, and I want this to remain at the centre of Arinex’ culture and values,” Ms Walker said.

“There are numerous examples of staff members who have grown their careers with Arinex. Our National Operations Manager started as a Delegate Services Assistant 11 years ago and one of our Senior Account Managers started as a receptionist 13 years ago.

“Arinex’ history of supporting its staff in this way has certainly helped our company weather times of skills shortages.”

Contact us for more information on the Arinex Internship Program.


Former interns Kirstie McIvor (far left) and Charlie Wright welcome delegates to a conference at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.