Life can certainly throw out some challenges and make you grateful for the small differences people can make in your life. This somehow reflects both how I was feeling before undertaking this internship and also my motivation behind getting involved in a project that would hopefully make the lives of Indigenous students claiming ABStudy a little simpler. After completing an Aurora Internship back in 2011 and then working within the native title system for 4 and a half years, I found myself at a cross-road in my career and personal life – heavily pregnant and underemployed I replied to a call for assistance to work on a project for the Aurora Education Foundation (in turn completing an internship) looking at ABStudy eligibility and entitlements and the complexities and rigmarole that potentially eligible Indigenous students navigate upon beginning University.
Beginning my 5 weeks part-time and working from home, it became blatantly obvious to me that the information about and process for claiming ABStudy was overwhelming and complex and there was a real need for a way to simplify the information and create some clear guidelines and resources for current and future students. A few interns had already made a start on the project prior to my input, but when I entered the project there was little instruction or focus and it was really left to my discretion to steer the project in the next direction.
My contribution hopefully added value to an ongoing and expanding project that will be of real benefit to future students. In conversations with the CEO, Richard Potok, it was agreed that a reference guide was needed and I set about creating the foundations of that resource. Further, it was decided that we needed to uncover real-life issues and situations to better understand how the project would be of most significant use and value. To achieve this, myself and other interns who began the project at about this time of the process, set about contacting and interviewing staff from various organisations and universities who were dealing with such student issues. Those interns took the project even further as my time was up, but I do hope that some time-consuming reading, analysis, collation of information, and detailed conversations on my behalf will save someone else much time and heart-ache in the future.
The Aurora Education Foundation is doing some excellent work with and for Indigenous students and I would definitely recommend their organisation to any future intern. My internship was certainly not the same type of experience that I had back in 2011, as actually getting to see within an organisation and their inner workings is half the fun, but working from home on a valuable and interesting project was a rewarding experience that enhanced my abilities in working and collaborating while off-site.
If you are thinking about doing an internship definitely DO IT! Look up the Aurora Internship Program at http://auroraproject.com.au/about-internship-program today.