The Big Idea internship

Big Idea logoThe Big Idea
is a new initiative from The Big Issue. It is designed as a competition between students from universities across Australia. The Big Idea invites students to develop a concept and business plan for a social enterprise that could become the next Big Issue. The winning idea could go on to be launched and delivered by The Big Issue on a national scale.

Information on The Big Idea 2014 final.

Please note: The opportunity to take part in The Big Idea is currently only available to students who enrol in Community Volunteering for Change (MULT20012 or MULT30020) in Semester 2, 2015.

Instead of undertaking a placement, as you would typically do as part of Community Volunteering for Change, you will work on a project designing a business plan for a new social enterprise. Although not compulsory, it is hoped that students will work in small groups of up to 5. In addition to the seminars run as part of the subject, you will also have the opportunity to attend a series of lectures and workshops organised by The Big Issue and delivered by guest speakers with expertise in both operational and strategic roles within social enterprises. Students will also hear from "thought leaders," influential Australian leaders in their field who will advise students as they work towards developing their business plans.

At the end of Semester two students will present their "Big Idea" to a panel of staff at the University of Melbourne. The finalists will then be invited to present their "Big Idea" to a panel of Australian business leaders who will judge the ultimate winner.

Internship requirements

In addition to the attendance at seminars as required by enrolment in Community Volunteering for Change (2 hour induction in semester one, 2015, 8 hours pre-placement, 2 hours mid-placement, 8 hours post-placement), students will also have the opportunity to participate in:

  • 4 hours of lectures
  • 12 hours of online webinars
  • 10 online question-and-answer workshops

It is expected that students will undertake upwards of 30 hours work towards developing their business plans for the Big Idea in lieu of a placement.

Upon completion of the subject, students will have completed a community project, gained insight into workplace issues and enhanced their employability skills. They will also have a developed a critical understanding of the role of not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises.


Students follow the assessment criteria as outlined in the Handbook for subjects MULT20012 and MULT30020. Instead of producing a reflective essay (50%) as the final piece of assessment, students will submit and present their business plans for The Big Idea.

As part of the assessment the business plan for a new social enterprise must meet The Big Issue's definition of a social enterprise

  • An organisation the operates as not-for-profit
  • Delivers an activity or function that creates socially beneficial outcomes
  • Is economically sustainable in the marketplace
  • Generates direct and meaningful work opportunities (with no barrier for entry) for disadvantaged people within the enterprise

The business plan must be scalable

Have demonstrated capacity to grow significantly and provide opportunities to a large number of disadvantaged people, even if it is small in start up.

The business plan must be sustainable

Whilst seed (or start-up) funding may be sought initially, ongoing funding or donations should not be relied upon.

The business plan must be legal

Must meet all relevant legislative requirements, eg award rates are paid to all employees.

How to apply