Hosting Science interns is a truly fulfilling experience

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“At the Australian Academy of Science we have hosted and supervised students through the ANU Science Internship Program for several years and find this to be a truly fulfilling experience”. Indigo Strudwicke, Policy Analyst at the Australian Academy of Science, was originally an intern herself and so understands the importance of providing others with similar opportunities. The team is always on the lookout for projects that can help interns gain hands-on experience and broaden their understanding of the science sector beyond university.

When choosing interns, Indigo says “We look for individuals with initiative and creativity, an understanding of complex interfaces, the ability to pick things up quickly, and enthusiasm. Hosting an intern brings fresh ideas and perspectives to our team and often helps us to kick-start projects that have been on the ‘to-do’ list for a while. The only drawback can be that interns are usually with us for a short time, so they often work on a part of a bigger project.” A typical day for an intern at the Australian Academy of Science involves joining team meetings and activities, and then spending most of their time focused on progressing their assigned project, with occasional ad-hoc small tasks to support other team members and get a glimpse at the rest of the work being done around them.

Indigo recalls her most memorable experience as a host was when one of their interns started a project for a fellowship program alumni event that eventually brought together a Nobel Prize winner, local musicians, and over 20 alumni from Australia and overseas. The resulting event was sold-out and was attended by over 2000 members of the public. It was a fun and exciting night and the intern was invited back to see the fruits of their labour.

When asked about his thoughts on the Science Internship Program, Dr Stuart Barrow, National Committee Manager at the Australian Academy of Science says that he “loves the Science Internship Program and appreciate the access that gives them to people with skills, enthusiasm, knowledge and perspective”.

Stuart and Indigo highly recommend pursuing a science internship to future students and highlight the valuable networking opportunities, real-world experience, and the opportunity to apply theory to real-world problems that the science internship offers. Their advice to future interns would be to bring their full self and say yes to as many opportunities as they can. The more interns are able to get involved in a project, the more they will get out of it. Lastly, their most important advice to interns is “Don't be afraid to ask questions!”