Fifty percent of the talented young Greeks graduating from their tertiary studies face 50% unemployment. A confronting statistic, and one that The Hellenic Initiative (THI) Australia is determined to decrease with its $1.5 million Internship Program.
The Internship Program has already, since its inception in 2015, given more than 18 six months paid internship opportunities to Greece’s graduates across a variety of sectors including architecture, engineering, marketing, and banking. Interns receive training and mentoring, develop new skills and return to Greece with a new outlook and capabilities based on their Australian workplace experience.
GCT chatted to Markos Mavromatis, a chemical engineering graduate currently undergoing his internship with Era Polymers, Australia’s largest independent polyurethane systems house, about applying for the internship, his experiences, and hopes from the program.
Where were you born and raised and where do you live now?
I was born in Athens 26 years ago. I am an only child raised by my mom and grandparents. I now live in a studio apartment close to Hyde Park in Sydney.
Tell us about your studies and interests?
Due to my love of music I went to a music high school and have been involved in many rock bands as a drummer, but I also know how to play the guitar, piano and a Greek instrument called the tamboura which is similar to the bouzouki. The highlight of my music career was the participation in the Greek finals of Junior Eurovision 2005.
After high school, I went to the National University of Athens (NTUA) and graduated in Chemical Engineering. Upon completing my studies I joined the paratrooper special forces to complete my 9-month military service.
When it comes to my hobbies, I enjoy many sports especially running as I have competed for 6 consecutive years at national level for 100 & 200m sprint. In the last couple of years, I have also been involved in CrossFit training. Besides sports, I love to travel to different countries to learn about their cultures and see how other people live.
How did you feel when you were offered the Sydney Internship?
It’s funny because I never had the expectation to come and live for 7 months in Sydney. One day I was just driving around in my car listening to music and then I heard about some program on the radio which helps fight youth unemployment. I submitted my request and after 3 qualification stages, I passed. The whole project was to find an internship in Greece but they also told us about The Hellenic Initiative of Australia so I submitted my request and didn’t expect anything, I thought my chance of winning lotto was probably greater, but to my surprise, I got accepted. Through that, I met the program manager Victoria Kyriakopoulos and then with the host company sales director Alex Papamanuel and here I am today.
What do you think of The Hellenic Initiative’s internship program?
This program allows me to broaden my experience and knowledge outside of Greece. To show in my resume that I have worked abroad in Australia which will hopefully give me an advantage that I would never have experienced if I didn’t apply for this internship.
Tell us about the product that you have been working on which has been approved to go to the client?
Due to confidentiality, I cannot go into depth on this project, as it’s not commercialized yet. It is a timber coating based on water which I developed. It has already passed quality checks and has been trialled by customers with positive feedback.
What would you like to achieve in your internship?
To broaden my knowledge of the industry, to strengthen my networking and ultimately to obtain a full-time job with this experience.
What would be your dream job after this internship?
I really enjoy the R&D department, every day brings across different challenges allowing you to work and develop new projects. Also the working environment here at Era Polymers is very enticing so I cannot rule out the prospect of maybe one day working here.
*Images by Nick Bourdo Photography (Copyright)