Science internships: How to win friends and influence people

Science internships: How to win friends and influence people

Emlyn Graham can do a magic trick. He knows, at any moment, how to earn your instant respect.

He can be serving a customer at his part-time job in a bottle shop when, with one sentence, he goes from being a service provider to being an expert.

“I say, ‘I study physics’ and the reaction is always, ‘Oh, wow!’” Emlyn says. “And then they ask me all these questions they have about stars.

“I appreciate it. I have to put a lot of work into my degree, so getting that respect for the work I’ve put in is nice.”

Emlyn is studying a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences flexible double degree at ANU, and thanks to the Science Internship Program, he’s had the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be an expert in another work environment.

Emlyn completed his internship at the Australian Academy of Science, the country’s preeminent body for the promotion of science.

The prestige of a scientist being awarded a Fellowship of the Academy of Science is comparable to receiving an Oscar from that other academy, so getting to work there while still an undergraduate increased Emlyn’s kudos-earning powers even further.

In the semester he spent at the Academy, he collaborated with another ANU student to produce a 35-page policy document on the direction that science and mathematics education should be taking in Australia over the next couple of decades.

The internship counted for credit towards his degree but with the added advantage, he notes, of having a real-world end product.

“When you do a uni assignment, it goes to the lecturer, gets marked and no-one ever sees it again.

“With the internship, I felt like all the effort I put into the policy is going to have a wider impact beyond the numbers I’ll see on my transcript at the end of semester.”

Emlyn has two more years of his double degree to go, and would then like to continue on with Honours in physics, a subject which can seem magic itself sometimes. “One of my friends is working with a researcher on how to levitate a mirror by shooting light at it,” Emlyn casually mentions, by way of example.

But when it comes to advice for future ANU students, this magician is happy to reveal his tricks.

“Being good at uni and studying hard is cool here,” Emlyn explains.

“It will garner respect and make you friends, which is totally different from high school.”

Find out how you can get more out of your ANU degree with the Science Internship Program.

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