I had the incredible opportunity to be offered an internship via the Aurora Internship Program during the 2014 summer break.
As a young Torres Strait Islander woman; I have always had a passion and keen interest in Indigenous affairs; though I didn’t really understand the politics or depth behind it.
I was fortunate enough to be hosted as an intern by Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation. I had heard great reviews of the organization and after much research and background reading I decided it was definitely where I wanted to do my 5 week placement.
When I arrived on my first day, I was given a tour and introduction to the staff, work place and also brief insight to many of the projects that exist within the organization.
From day one I was already intrigued by how inspiring Balkanu’s aim and mission was. The staff were all so passionate and enthusiastic about the work and I felt so humbled to have been given the privilege to temporarily be a part of this community. I was welcomed with open arms by all and treated as an equal. I didn’t feel any less incapable just because I was a university student.
I had a great start to my first week, working alongside Business Facilitator, Tracey Ludwick in the Balkanu Business Unit. Tracey is involved in many works, projects and boards. I felt honored to have the opportunity to assist her with the latest project in which Balkanu is auspicing funds for the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. It is a major event that has attracted crowds from all over the globe for many many years. I began working on this in my first week of placement.
Many of my duties involved assisting Tracey. However there were many times where I was left to work independently and in this instance I completed a lot of tasks alone. My supervisor always had tasks prepared for me and I enjoyed having extremely productive days.
I had the opportunity to assist with creating budgets and submitting grant applications to the state, as well as being involved in meetings with fellow Balkanu staff members concerning discussion around the plans of the Native Title Conference which is to be held in Port Douglas, north Queensland this June. I found the discussion extremely insightful and ended up going home that night to read more about the conference and its aim. As my days and weeks progressed at Balkanu, I found myself not only being confined to the set tasks and duties I was expected to complete, but feeling as if my mind had been opened to many new perspectives and opportunities. Spending so much time in such a diverse and passionate organization made me want to come to work everyday and feel challenged and when I had the chance, explore other avenues I would have perhaps not even had known about or had not been as open to.
The opportunity of this Aurora Internship not only gave me the chance to have hands on experience, but to network and learn from older, professional people. It allowed me to be exposed to the opportunities that exist after uni, the endless pathways that are available in this line of work.
I took so much understanding and knowledge away from this experience. Knowledge that no uni or text book could have taught me. It was truly incredible to have a taste of what the real working world could be like. I enjoyed having a full weekly schedule.
I was inspired and motivated every single day of my placement and I would most definitely be eager to apply for an Aurora internship again.
It’s the learning, growing and experience you take away. It’s the environment, people and work that allow you to apply your skills and knowledge and succeed to the best of your ability.
As the internship was not paid, I felt even more gratuitous attending work each day to help and assisting where I was needed and appreciated most. I believe this is one of the positive and unique attributes of the Program. As well as it preparing you for life after uni and exposing you to graduate opportunities, it allows you to willingly take on tasks and complete them to the best of your ability. Life was so much easier knowing I had an extensive amount of support and not only did I represent myself, but my family, community and university; we well as the Aurora community, and Balkanu.
This experience enabled me to develop lifelong skills and establish professional networks with people whom I would possibly have never crossed paths with.
I would highly recommend the Aurora Internship Program to any student with a keen interest in native title and Indigenous affairs. If you think this may be you, be sure to take a look at the following link! http://www.auroraproject.com.au/ Applications for the 2015 Winter round of Aurora internships are open on-line from Monday 2nd March through to Friday 27th March.