My internship at the British High Commission

It’s rare for an undergraduate student to see their studies make an impact upon an organisation before their career has even started, but for Brody Hannan, the Australian National Internship Program made this possible.

I wrote last year about the opportunities of internships at ANU, and the value I got out of working for the Australian Research Council and the Climate Change Institute as part of several research project and internship courses offered by ANU.

This year I was lucky enough to land a placement at the British High Commission, where I wrote a paper about UK-Australian research collaboration as part of my degree.

My research mapped the key collaborations between British and Australian businesses and universities, as well as describing the benefits, challenges and impacts that researchers saw when it comes to collaborating with the UK.

I contacted Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Deans and other academics from just about every Australian and British university (it’s a long process... there’s hundreds of them) to ask them about the awesome research their university was doing.

I was then able to generate case studies about some of the main collaborations. These were used in my report, and also informed a speech the High Commissioner gave at Collaborate-Innovate 2017 in June this year.

The most exciting part of my research was its incredible relevance and extraordinary potential impact. Based on my findings, I was able to make recommendations that were then passed up to the High Commissioner, with the potential of reaching the UK Minister for Universities and Science. 

By far the coolest moment of my time at the British High Commission was in my third week there. Knowing I was interested in higher education policy, the High Commissioner invited me to join her for a meeting she had with the Vice-Chancellors of the 11 International Alliance of Research Universities, who were meeting at the ANU that day.

It was such a surreal experience to be in the front seat of the High Commissioner’s Jaguar sports car—British flags on the front of the car blowing in the wind—to arrive at the event and have my car door opened for me, with a greeting of “Good afternoon, Sir”, even though I was just the intern.

I then walked into a room where the heads of some of the biggest universities from around the world—Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, UC Berkley, as well as our very own Vice Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt—and the British High Commissioner, the Secretary of Defence and the Chairman of NAB Bank were gathered. And me. It was pretty surreal.

This experience wouldn’t have been possible without ANU and its Australian National Internship Program. It gave me such an incredible opportunity to utilise my skills and knowledge in science policy that I’d learnt throughout my degree to make a genuine impact, as well as gain some awesome experiences that I’ll take with me throughout the rest of my career.

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