My Internship Experience
This was the first internship I have undertaken in my life. It was the first opportunity I had been given to work in an environment similar to that in which I might hopefully find employment. I did not know what to expect – there was a stark contrast between the work expected of me via the Aurora Internship Program and my casual retail job. Overall, it was extremely rewarding for me both personally and professionally.
The legal sector is highly competitive and a contemporary legal student cannot reasonably hope to find employment without completing at least some form of work experience before graduating. The Aurora Internship was a platform for me to gain essential professional experience which was also in line with my passions. It is for this reason that I chose to start my career with this internship, and why I would recommend it to anyone with similar views.
My Host Organisation
The Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) is an Aurora Host organisation that cannot truly be defined without being involved at the Centre itself. From the outset, you are treated as an equal to critically-acclaimed academics and professional staff. What is even more unique is the wide-ranging skillset of professionals at CAEPR. In my first week, I was under the genuine belief that you could only get into CAEPR if you held a qualification that a current staff-member did not already hold. It is only at institutions like CAEPR where you realise the benefit of utilising various specialisations for one grand purpose.
CAEPR is a Host organisation which would benefit any Aurora intern notwithstanding their speciality stream. It is also an organisation within which interns are free to work autonomously. Interns are given an opportunity to prove what they can do in the workplace in an encouraging and supportive environment, unlike many internships where the interns follow their supervisor’s instructions only.
The Type of Work I Undertook on Placement
CAEPR is a research institute and most of the work I did was based around a research project coordinated by my supervisor. I mainly engaged in primary research which consisted of access to databases, collecting information from websites of other institutions and organisations (such as the NSW Department of Lands). I also synthesised raw data and materials that I gathered for the research project – in my case this was mostly the Court decisions. I made case notes and grouped all the cases into categories for my supervisor. By the end of the internship I was asked to complete a literature review of the research I had done.
The type of work I undertook on placement was not strictly controlled by my supervisor. I was effectively working together with her on the project which allowed me to engage with the research in ways that I thought were best. I also collaborated with other academics on the same project.
How This Experience Expanded My Skillset
This was my first experience in transferring the knowledge I had learned at university to real-world use. At CAEPR the Aurora internship showed me the practical use of a law degree outside of a firm and how much of an impact effective research can make in the world – in this case, economic policy at State Government level. My experience at CAEPR helped expand my perspective of law from strictly doctrinal (black-letter law) to a broader socio-legal perspective (taking into account the factors that affect the law outside of the courtroom).
More practically, it was my first experience of working at an organisation in a ‘full-time’ role. My research skills had also improved dramatically. I was doing primary research with a purpose, as opposed to researching for university essays. I learned to search within databases more effectively and utilise external materials such as annual reports. I became comfortable using Microsoft Excel to produce figures and graphs.
To describe my overall experience at CAEPR in this reflection will not do it justice. The Aurora internship is an experience I am not likely to forget – the people I have met and the experience I have gained cannot be matched. It was a unique experience which opened my eyes to the different avenues available after graduation, and the ways in which I can use my degree to make a meaningful difference.