I first heard about the Aurora internship programme from my University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit half-way through my Honours year in a Bachelor of Psychological Science, when the prospect of getting employment out of my degree was something that evoked both excitement, as well as a profound, profound existential dread. Having previously interned in the community-controlled health sector, I was aware of the Lowitja Institute’s work in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, and I knew this was an area I was passionate about. So, when I found Lowitja Institute among the list of over a hundred possible organisations I could intern with, my choice suddenly became very easy. Once I was notified that my internship application to the Lowitja Institute had been accepted, I eagerly packed my bags and left the oppressive heat of Brisbane for six weeks in Melbourne.
Finishing a degree, living in a new city and starting out in a new workplace are all significant changes, particularly when they all happen at the same time. With all that going on, it would have been easy to feel a little overwhelmed. Fortunately, I was made to feel like part of the team from the very beginning of my internship, and was provided with great supervision and mentoring.
On top of that, I was able to work on a diverse range of interesting projects across the Research and Knowledge Translation team’s portfolios including workforce development and capacity building, knowledge translation, and research impact. My tasks involved updating research project descriptions on the website, working on Lowitja Institute’s bid to lead the development of a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) National Network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers, and investigating what factors are associated with Australian Research Council (ARC) high impact research projects. I also attended a two-day Terri Janke True Tracks Training workshop on Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property, which gave me a valuable insight into an area I had no prior knowledge of.
The opportunity to work with so many knowledgeable people on a variety of tasks and topics facilitated both my personal and professional development, and provided me with invaluable experience. It also cemented my interest in reforming the research process to be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and with community engagement throughout.
My extremely positive experience with Lowitja, partnered with my passion for the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, contributed to my decision to apply for a full-time role as a Project Officer within the research team. The success of my application, as well as relieving the previously mentioned profound existential dread, has meant that I have the opportunity to work in an area that I have a genuine interest in, and where I feel I’m making a meaningful contribution to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. It’s also meant that I have the ability to develop my professional capabilities as a recent graduate.
Needless to say, this opportunity would not have been possible without the Aurora Project’s Internship Programme, and I’m immensely grateful to the work done by Aurora to place university students and recent graduates with organisations working to further Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, whether that’s in the health sciences, social sciences, legal or anthropology streams. For any current students or recent graduates looking to gain practical experience in these areas, I absolutely recommend that you consider an internship with Aurora. You can find out more at the following website: http://www.auroraproject.com.au/