Three graduating students reflecting on their time in the ANU School of Politics and International Relations say they wouldn’t have had the internship experiences and opportunities that they did at any other university.
Sarah Jones gave the 2016 convocation speech on behalf of College of Arts and Social Sciences students, while Hayley Pring and Victor Ferguson won 2016 LF Crisp Memorial Prizes for Political Science and International Relations respectively.
“It is an honour and I’m incredibly humbled to be able to talk about my experiences at ANU,” says Sarah, who’s graduating with a Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws.
“There are many people to thank for supporting me in my studies, who pressed me to do bigger things.
“I’ll also mention the intangible aspects of a degree, such as the friendships that develop with other students and also academics.”
Victor, who this year received a Bachelor of International Relations (Hons) and will in 2017 complete his Bachelor of Law (Hons), wanted to be close to Australia’s political and diplomatic heart.
“I chose International Relations because I felt it would provide enough flexibility for me to study both historical and contemporary political and economic issues in different regions around the world,” he says.
“My early study with engaging lecturers such as Dr Jim George and Dr Michael McKinley had a strong influence on the formation and trajectory of my academic interests and beliefs.
“Studying in the School afforded me the opportunity to undertake a rewarding internship with the Australian Institute of International Affairs and I was very fortunate to have both the pleasure and privilege of working under the supervision of Dr Darren Lim during my Honours year.”
While at ANU, Hayley Pring (Bachelor of Arts Hons ’16) completed an internship in Berlin at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom think tank.
“That was not through ANU, but my degree at ANU made me a great candidate for the position,” Hayley says.
“The honours cohort this year was a huge highlight for me, and it was great to work alongside brilliant, bright and like-minded students.”
Other highlights for Hayley included the Middle East undergraduate courses led by Dr Kiril Nourzhanov and Dr Matthew Gray from the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, and her supervisor, Dr Chungshik Moon.
For Sarah, who left her home in rural Western Australia and spent four years in Bruce Hall, one standout was the University’s unique Washington internship.
“It was an amazing opportunity, not only to get over to Washington and work on Capitol Hill, but to come back and do undergraduate research at such a high level,” Sarah says.
“And to have that close working relationship with [School head] Dr Andrew Banfield was something that extended beyond the internship. It’s an amazing experience you don’t get from ordinary study.”
Hayley, meanwhile, says studying politics and international relations exposed her to history, economics, geography, sociology, and even law.
“The methodological training and problem-solving aspects that underpin political science are all extremely employable and transferable skills to multiple career pathways.
“You don't necessarily need to go into academia with a political science degree”
The three new alumni will be moving in different directions in 2017.
Sarah will join a Canberra-based commercial law firm, but will likely begin postgraduate study in political science or a similar field in the future.
Victor will spend some of the new year hiking in Japan, then return to be a tutor in the School of Politics and International Relations while undertaking his honours in the College of Law.
Hayley’s also returning to completing a Masters in Economics at ANU before looking for political science doctorate opportunities in the United States.
At their graduation ceremony on 16 December, all three students saw 2014 ANU Alumni of the Year Thérèse Rein, and her husband, fellow alumni and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, receive honorary doctorates for their influences on Australian society.