Tapping into potential through internships at ANZ

Thu 26 September 2019

Group photo of colleagues at a park with open pizza boxes on nearby table

Image: Intern Richard with the ANZ Tech Delivery Team on a pizza night. 

Real-world, practical experience. It’s a key ingredient that often enables one job candidate to stand out from the next. For organisations like ANZ, it’s also a valuable opportunity to support the career aspirations of young people with disability.

For several years, ANZ has helped university students with disability to gain vital work experience through internships. Matched with skilled candidates through the Australian Network on Disability’s Stepping Into program, ANZ has hosted more than 20 interns eager to jump-start their graduate careers.

ANZ Release Manager Chris Palatsides hoped his intern Richard would gain practical experience he could use to enhance his employability and job prospects. As it turned out, the internship was of ongoing benefit to ANZ as well, with Richard being offered a permanent position as part of the company’s Artificial Intelligence team.

Chris said he was amazed by Richard’s contributions right from the start.

“With a development and software engineering background at university, Richard was coding in the first month, which was amazing. We started with really small tasks and continued to grow the complexity and gave different types of work. From writing user stories, creating test cases and also creating a reporting portal for our business to use,” he said.

“It’s been a great experience and we are lucky to have found someone with Richard’s skills to help us on our journey. We now have a new permanent junior developer who is providing value to our business every day and we couldn’t be happier.”

Richard is unable to stand or walk for long periods, which impacted his studies and career options.

“The chances of finding employment for me were drastically reduced. It’s one of the reasons I went back to complete another course at university. Even with a university education though, applying for jobs related to my role was difficult as my disability greatly affected my grades and many companies only judge potential candidates by their academic record,” said Richard.

Through the Stepping Into program, Richard had a valuable opportunity to be seen for more than his university transcript, but also his unique skills, interests, attitude, and potential. After successfully securing an internship with ANZ, he found a culture that was welcoming, supportive and offered the workplace adjustments he needed to perform at his best.

Chris said his priority as Richard’s supervisor was simply to make sure he felt comfortable.

“We made sure the days were not too long and there was flexibility to work at home – nothing major. Our workstations allow for sitting or standing and we have multiple collaboration spaces, so really it was a great environment for Richard to work in, I believe. We were conscious to make it as comfortable as possible and had regular check-ins to ensure all was OK and, more importantly, that he was enjoying the experience,” he said.

“I’m most proud seeing Richard initially come in as a really quiet and shy intern to someone who has made a lot of friends and earned the respect of his peers and now is a valued team member.” 

Richard is eager to learn as much as he can in his new role and continue developing his skills in information technology and software engineering.

To other university students with disability thinking about applying for the Stepping Into program, Richard says:

“Just do it. You stand to lose nothing but gain a lot. Even if you don’t believe you have a chance of being selected for a spot, you should try. I got much more from the experience than I could have expected.”

About Stepping Into

Stepping Into is a national internship program run by the Australian Network on Disability. It connects leading Australian organisations with talented university students with disability.

Organisations hosting internships this summer include ANZ, Attorney General’s Department, Barwon Health, BHP, Department of Education and Training, IAG, Telstra, University of Sydney, Victoria Police, Westpac and more.

Since Stepping Into started in 2005, more than 1200 students have gained internships with over 110 organisations across Australia. It has become a highly valued talent pipeline and an effective foundation from which organisations can:

  • Change attitudes
  • Build disability confidence
  • Improve hiring practices
  • Enhance inclusive leadership
  • Cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace culture
  • Boost employment of people with disability

Find out more about hosting an intern at your workplace.

Uni students, last chance to apply for summer internships

Applications for placements in summer 2019-20 must be submitted by 4 October 2019. For more details, including frequently asked questions and a list of current opportunities, go to our information for students.  


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