National internship program turns 21

18 March 2015

It gives them much broader exposure to what public life is about. And we want them to come back.

Australia’s national parliamentary internships program has celebrated 21 years of placing student interns with politicians, lobby groups, embassies and other organisations across Canberra.

The Australian National Internships Program (ANIP) is run by ANU and gives students from any university the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of government and decision-making.

Students can do internships with federal MPs and senators, in government departments, diplomatic missions, think tanks and non-government organisations.

ANIP has placed around 1,600 interns in its 21 years.

ANU ANIP program participant and ANU student Medha Majumdar is mid-way through her internship with Greens Senator Lea Rhiannon.

“It’s been a fantastic experience. I get really involved with what’s going on in the day-to-day life of Parliament,” she said.

“The internship has been a fantastic way to learn about what people do in parliament and in their jobs. The experience has given me an idea about where I want to go in my future and given me a whole other experience from what I expected.”

The program is highly regarded by many of Australia’s members of Parliament, among them Speaker The Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP, who attended a dinner at Parliament House to celebrate the anniversary.

“To see people taking advantage of what is available in having the experience of coming into the Parliament, being in members’ offices, senators’ offices and various institutions, it gives them much broader exposure to what public life is about,” she said.

“And we want them to come back.”

The Hon Warren Snowdon, MP for the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari, has been a supporter of the program since it began.

“It gives young people who have an interest the opportunity to do an internship in a parliamentary office and do a project that is important to them,” Mr Snowdon said.

“As a result of the program I’ve made long-term friends but also had some people who have come back to work for me.”

With an unprecedented 55 students placed in the last two semesters, ANIP Director Dr Marshall Clark has plans for further expansion.

“I think ANIP’s greatest achievement is its longevity, but not only has it lasted, it’s grown, particularly in the last few years,” said Dr Clark.

“We’ve worked very hard with embassies in particular as well as other non-parliament organisations.

ANIP is set to expand internationally, with host organisations already lined up in Jakarta, Taiwan, Buenos Aires, Singapore and Noumea.

“The organisations are ready to take on our interns, now we just need to find the students to place there,” said Dr Clark.

The ANIP Endowment, also launched on Tuesday, will provide scholarships to students who need to travel for their internships, either interstate or internationally.

The ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences will provide $100,000, while School of Politics and International Relations donated $10,000 to the fund.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO said internships were an essential element of any high quality student experience.

“For an institution such as the ANU, where many of our students will go on to work for the government, it is imperative they have opportunities that assist them in shaping their careers,” he said.