Ask a student: Solene's internship experience

Publication date
Tuesday, 13 Dec 2022
A woman standing in front of a creek and some buildings

Solene Chretien is studying a Bachelor of Environment & Sustainability / Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics. As part of her studies, she completed an internship with Stop Food Waste Australia. 

Why did you decide to apply for an internship?

The internship program (or a special topics course) is embedded in my Agricultural Innovation major in my degree, and I was super lucky in that there was an internship advertised that was super relevant to what I was studying, and what I am interested in. I believe that getting practical experience by working with an organisation is crucial for contextualising your studies and grounding the theories you are learning in the real world! It feels really good to be able to visualise why the things you are learning are actually useful. Aside from that, I believe internships are useful to work out what you really like doing (or at least narrow things down)!   

How was the process? What was the level of support from the college/university?

The process was really easy. Since I was applying for an internship that had been advertised by the College of Science, I simply submitted an expression of interest to the college and then wrote up a one-page doc on why I wanted to do the internship to send to the organisation. After being accepted into it, I just had to find a supervisor and fill out a few forms. Marian from the college was there every step of the way to answer questions!

Did you end up with the specific internship opportunity that you were after? Were there others that you were interested in?

I did end up with the specific internship opportunity I was after. There were no others on the website I was interested in, however, I know that you can apply for others externally.

Can you describe a day in your life as an intern at Stop Food Waste Australia?

I would come into the SFWA office in Kingston (picking up a snack from the infamous National Bakery at the Kingston shops of course), and greet my supervisor. It is a really small office so it was mostly just us two in there. At the start of the day, we would go over what I needed to get done for that day. I was helping out on a sector action plan for on-farm food waste, so my days were always quite varied!  I often joined in on calls with stakeholders and took notes. Sometimes my supervisor would give me crash courses on really useful things like stakeholder mapping and developing theories of change. I also did lots of research and worked on developing a workshop. Beyond that, my supervisor and I were always chatting,  enjoying cups of tea, and sometimes going for lunch! Her other intern would often come in for the second half of the day, which was super fun as she happens to be my housemate!

Biggest achievement and/or most memorable experience from your internship?

Getting to deliver the workshop that we had worked on for a really cool group of stakeholders! I also got to talk over the methodology and results for the deep dive into crop loss in Queensland that I undertook, which was memorable. It was very satisfying to be able to carry out the task of developing a workshop from inception to delivery!

Do you believe this internship will help you achieve your career goals? If yes, how?

Definitely! It gave me an incredible insight into the kind of work happening in the agricultural policy and innovation space. I also developed so many technical and professional skills that I feel are really transferrable across many different areas. In particular, I really valued the experience I gained working in a co-design, trans-disciplinary process, where you are talking to lots of different stakeholders. I believe that policy should be developed in collaboration with the people that they impact, and the people who are most knowledgeable about the issue in the first place! I think this really rings true in agriculture.

What would you say to future students about pursuing a science internship?

There are so many different opportunities out there and this can be really daunting, but I would recommend just pursuing the ones that you are really interested in. You probably have a better chance of getting it if your passion really comes through in your application, and it will be most useful for you! Also, in the Fenner school, I feel as though we are so lucky to have so many guest lecturers come and speak to us. I would recommend making the most of that, and reaching out to the ones you think are really cool or interesting after class! In my experience, they can give so much great advice and point you in the right direction!  

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