Know what a choccy biccy is? Ever go surfing before you went to class or work? Though at first it may seem similar to the U.S., the cultural – and even language – differences in an Australian workplace compared to an American one regularly surprise interns. Often the differences are positive, like a true work-life balance or taking time for lunch with coworkers, but they can still take a little getting used to. Here’s what you can expect.

Aussie Lingo

One of the biggest cultural differences in the workplace is language. Aussies like to shorten almost every word that they possibly can! This can be quite confusing when one expects to be interning in a country where people speak English. Enjoy this video and get to know the lingo before embarking on your journey to Australia.

Aussie Humor

It’s quite common for colleagues to swear and make jokes. This is never perceived as insulting and is always taken as harmless fun. Australian laid back attitudes and the need to avoid stressful situations in the workplace is amazing. Australians’ include a lot of humor in their day-to-day working relationships with partners and meetings tend to start with a casual conversation before getting down to business. This doesn’t mean that there is a lack of respect. Informal speech in the workplace is very typical and directness can be seen as being more efficient and effective as means of communicating.

Work / Life Balance

Overall, Australians are extremely relaxed and you will also notice this within the work environment. This does not mean that Australians do not work hard – they do! Don’t confuse this relaxation with a lack of work ethic. Australia regularly features as one of the top countries in the world for having the longest working week and the workforce is extremely efficient. Most feel this this is a result of Australian lifestyle choices. It is really important to Australians that a work life balance is achievable and it’s quite common for people to go surfing before work in the mornings then throw on a suit and to go to the office.

Learn More about Interning in Australia


Bondi Beach in Sydney, where interns spend much spare time soaking up Aussie culture
Bondi Beach where you can get in your daily surf | Nicole Gomes, Saint Mary’s College of California


Australian workers also like to socialize, be it coffee breaks, Friday lunchtime drinks or dinner after work. It is where a lot of business ideas grow and a lot of decisions are made. Office hierarchies don’t really exist per se and this gives employees the feeling of being respected and that their work matters.

Socialising with work colleagues is part of the Australian work culture
Enjoying a break and flat white in Victoria Park | Sarah Gloninger, University of Pittsburgh

Stepping Up

When asked to complete tasks it’s normal for an employee to respond casually by using common phrases such as “too easy” or “no dramas” in Australia even if this is not the case. Australians don’t like to be defeated by a heavy workload and will go above and beyond for the company they work for showing extreme dedication and diligence.

As in the U.S., being a go-getter and using initiative in the workplace is really important in order to succeed in an Australian company. Asking what additional tasks you can do to help is a great trait and can be very rewarding as an intern to participate in more challenging tasks. Make jokes, ask to be included, encourage and suggest alternative ideas and you will find yourself being well respected. As an intern, it will be expected that you demonstrate good communication as well as have good problem-solving, planning and organizational skills. Australians value the ability to work independently or in diverse teams. It is rewarding for an employee to show enthusiasm and be self-motivated by taking initiative and being assertive when appropriate. As an intern, your opinion and work will be valued!

Explore the TEAN Internship in Australia program. Or ask us a question.