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Social justice, native title and Aboriginal rights: The Aurora Internship Program

Lara is in her final year of a Bachelor of Science. Along with the Aurora internship, as part of the GLP Lara has taken a short course in Spanish, volunteered with Macquarie Sustainability and attended events on the Sustainable Development Goals and the intersection between art and refugees.

Looking for work experience to develop your practical and cross-cultural skills within Australia? Interested in social justice, native title and Indigenous affairs? If you are, read on! The Aurora Internship might be the right opportunity for you.

I came across the Aurora Internship Program during the third year of my University degree thanks to one of my lecturers. As an undergraduate Science student, majoring in Environmental Management and Human Geography, I was looking for work experience to complement my studies, as I understand how competitive the job market can be. At the same time, I wanted to find opportunities to complete the GLP program locally and enhance my University experience whilst gaining insight into working in the field of native title, land rights and social justice. I also saw the internship as an opportunity to get to know myself better and find out what I really want to do when I finish University.

Now I’ve completed the Aurora Internship I can say that this experience provided even more than what I was hoping for, it completely exceeded my expectations. The application and interview process to get into the Program helped me develop important skills for future job applications. It is a competitive application process, so developing my resume and going through a formal interview benefited me greatly. I gained experience even before being accepted into the Program!

Once I was found to be eligible for a placement, I was very surprised and excited to be placed at the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), which is the State’s peak representative body in land rights and Aboriginal affairs. As interns, we are encouraged by Aurora to keep our expectations low and to expect a healthy balance of challenging, interesting work as well as being happy to help the overworked staff with administrative tasks and daily operations. I had the opportunity to work on my own project, conducting research and writing a scoping report. I looked at issues related to the NSWALC membership engagement, which involved looking at demographic data, NSWALC’s current membership data and system, finding gaps and issues on the system and proposing new strategies to tackle those issues.

I was given a lot of autonomy to undertake my work, but at the same time guided by my supervisor, who was always available to answer questions. I think the feedback and supervision that you get while undertaking an internship is very valuable and provides a lot of scope for learning and expanding personal and professional skills, especially when undertaking challenging work.

NSWALC was very welcoming. On my first day at work I was introduced to all the friendly staff and felt very comfortable and like I really belonged to the Department of Policy and Research. The positive, vibrant and engaging work environment made my experience even better. I had the opportunity to meet some incredible people, who are so passionate about what they do, and observe the organisational dynamics, the type of work they do, and learn about the Land Rights system.

I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to gain experience working in Aboriginal rights, along with developing my professional skills in an office environment. It is a great feeling knowing that my work was somewhat valuable to the organisation and that I was able to contribute and be part of a team who is working to make a difference.

My Aurora Internship experience was completely worthwhile. If you are looking for opportunities to complete the GLP locally and a chance to travel around Australia, the Aurora Internship is a great pick! If you are interested in issues related to social justice, native title and Aboriginal affairs I strongly recommend applying for the program.

Are you interested in an internship? Lara has some suggestions to make the most out of the experience.

  1. Before going for an internship interview, write down two or three points on your past experiences, studies and skills that you can talk about during the interview. Having those examples to use in the back of your head during the interview can be very useful, especially if you’re nervous.

  2. It is OK to feel nervous, take a few deep breaths and remember to be yourself!

  3. When undertaking the internship, don’t have unreasonable expectations, be open to meeting people and the work you might be given. It’s not always going to be exciting work, but it is all part of your learning experience. It is always better to have your expectations exceeded than to get frustrated with mundane tasks!

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