2006, in a small town of approximately 800 people in Gin Gin, Queensland, about 50 kilometres from the nearest McDonalds, Kriti Mahajan’s journey in Australia begins. Originally from India, Kriti and her family are about to make yet another move – this time to Australia’s bush capital. Where this week she will graduate from the Australian National University (ANU) with two degrees – one in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and the other, a Bachelor of Law (Hons).
With its rich political landscape, Canberra is the ideal place for a young woman interested in the world of diplomacy, like herself, where she is surrounded by embassies, law firms and government departments.
Despite undertaking a unique university experience amid the pandemic, Kriti took full advantage of the virtual exchange opportunities ANU offered. Studying Indonesian society and the Bahasa language from her bedroom.
“I did two virtual experiences. I did a virtual exchange, which involved me being in Indonesia virtually through my bedroom, where I would explore Indonesian townships and I also learnt Indonesian. So I think my time during COVID was well spent and I was lucky enough to get scholarships for both of those, thanks to the New Colombo Plan, with both of these courses also counting towards my degree.”
Kriti also managed to expand her academic experience beyond the ANU campus. She highlights the Political Economy of Myanmar tour as one of the most transformative experiences of her academic journey. Meeting government officials and visiting rural farmers' homes, she was able to see how the theory she learned in the classroom has real-world impact.
“It was just this golden window to go to this place that was unlike anything I've ever seen before.
With degrees like political science, you hear about the world but it's an entirely different thing to see it and be part of it, especially with places like Myanmar. Even though it’s a military controlled state, they have some of the same problems that we have and seeing that was really humanising. I think everything I did in political science after that, I wasn't thinking of it in terms of political theory or left and right wing, I was thinking about it in terms of people and the effects every decision has. It really changed my whole perspective," Kriti comments.
“Any time anyone asks me, what's the best thing you can do at ANU – I say go somewhere. It's not to say that the best thing you can do is to leave ANU but go with ANU somewhere,” she shares.
Kriti undertook an internship in the Trade and Investment Law branch at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Using the experience gained, she secured a job at PWC as an auditor. Kriti was the 2022 Frohlich World Bank Scholarship with the Integrity Vice-President awardee, an opportunity that took her to Washington D.C. for six months, to investigate and litigate anti-corruption in World Bank projects.
Her academic journey and diverse experiences have led her to her next adventure:
“I'm headed over to Geneva to work at the Australian mission to The World Trade Organisation - so it's diplomacy in action. If I hadn't come to the ANU and I hadn't met the professors I had, who encouraged me to just put my hand up and give it a go, who knows where I’d be.”
“ANU taught me to just go for it! You might find yourself off to Geneva by the end of it. I'll be there having a white Christmas, but also engaging with diplomats all over the world and advocating for Australia and our trade interests on this very global stage,” Kriti says.
Having taken full advantage of the pleather of opportunities ANU offers, Kriti is excited to graduate. With a rich educational background and a host of practical experiences, her career prospects are bright.