Interning at a Think Tank: Rare Opportunity I Took Advantage OF

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Frankie Li, COL ’24

This Summer, I was given the exciting opportunity to intern at the United States Studies Centre–a leading think tank based at the University of Sydney.

I, like many other undergraduates during COVID, needed paid work to finance my expenses during college outside my tuition. Because of the generous funding from Career Services Summer Funding Grant, I was able to focus completely on my internship experience and explore my interests in policy research.

At the United States Studies Centre, I covered a wide breadth of policy topics and specifically those that catered to the US. I examined vaccine diplomacy between the US and China, Australia’s dependency on the US for national security, and the implications of the new Biden Administration on global environmental initiatives. By taking a look at these domains, I developed knowledge and research tools or databases to the different types of domain. For example, I learned about the decreasing exports in the natural resources industry through Australia’s Bureau of Statistics–a resource and tool I was not familiar with but became familiar with. Both rigorous and extensive, I learned a significant amount of skills and knowledge in my time at a think tank.

Additionally, I was presented with ample opportunities and connections with key figures in policy creation. In the second week of my internship, I provided research support for my supervisor leading a panel on the future of the world in relation to the new Biden Administration. Specifically,  we focused on climate considerations led by a senior researcher in the United States Studies Centre who worked for the past Prime Minister and on Obama’s administration. Given the opportunity to do supportive research for a panel of policy researchers and creators was an astounding opportunity–one only possible through the connections and establishment of a think tank. Additionally, I was able to analyze and reflect on past publications from my think tank. To my findings, I found that some of the policies passed in Australia were fueled by publications from our thinktank–an exciting touchpoint of policy creation that invigorated my interest in policy. Through this internship, I was able to work with an institution that fuels direct policy creation, an exciting step in my career.

Thanks to the Career Services Funding Grant, I was able to dedicate my entire time to gaining the skills and experience I can from a think tank. To work at a think tank was an opportunity that was both rare and exciting–possible only because I did not need to work on another job if Career Services had not supported me.


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