One of the many unique things about the ANU is its strong connections to business, government and universities alike.
One way the ANU does this is through internships. These are for-credit courses where instead of sitting in a lecture with your peers, you’ll be out in the workforce in an organisation of your choice, doing research for the organisation.
I’ve been very lucky throughout my degree to have done several of these internships - this Semester I am working with the Climate Change Institute and the Australian Research Council, where I’m researching climate change mitigation policies, and helping develop a new assessment to measure the impact of university research, respectively.
I’m really interested in Science Policy - with the current discourse around ‘STEM’, ‘digital skills’ and ‘innovation’, it’s clear that science will play a big part of the future political and economic climate. I hope my studies in Science Communication and Policy Studies will help me see how science plays out between business, government and universities, and how the three interact with each other.
For each of the internships, I spend a day a week working in their Canberra offices. Whilst this may seem like a huge time commitment, because they are for-credit, the internships count towards two subjects, meaning I can take a reduced workload of other subjects at uni. At the end of the Semester, I’ll submit a research report to my supervisor, as well as deliver a presentation on my work to both my employer and the university.
As the reports I’m writing are graded by my supervisor, I get a lot of support from both the ANU and my employer – and I’m not just making coffees and photocopying paper.
In fact, my work is highly valued and important. My report for the Climate Change Institute will form part of a much larger policy document to recommend mitigation strategies to the Environment Minister. My work with the Australian Research Council will be given to the CEO who will then present my findings in a committee meeting with the Education Minister, which will then help shape the way universities’ research is evaluated in the future.
It's rare for an undergraduate like myself to develop such experience, skills and networks so early in their career.
The several internship schemes that the ANU runs allows almost every student to have such an experience within their degree, and is one of the many things that make the ANU different.