Aurora Internship Program

ANU Alumni Alice McCarthy shares her internship experience with The Aurora Project
23 March 2018

I am so grateful for the opportunities that the Aurora internship has provided me, not only employment, new friends, new skills and knowledge, but also a clear direction for the next steps in my life.

As I sit down to write this report about my experiences as a participant in the Summer 2017 Aurora Internship program, I realise that I am proud of the year that has been and am excited and grateful for the opportunities that 2018 presents. I also know that this feeling and these opportunities are mostly a result of participating in the Aurora Internship program. It has truly catapulted my life in a new direction and I am so grateful that it has.

I applied for the Aurora Internship in April 2017. I had graduated from a science degree at ANU a few years earlier, majoring in Biological Anthropology, and had spent most of my time since then working in disability. I was feeling a little lost about the next steps I should take in my career, knowing that I was passionate about health, social justice and deeply interested in Indigenous Australia. An Aurora internship presented a real opportunity to redirect my career towards my keenest interests and to learn new things. So I was really excited when I was accepted into the program.

I was placed with the National Centre for Indigenous Genomics (NCIG) at the ANU in Canberra. NCIG is an organisation at the forefront not only of the latest genomic research, but also of establishing a new gold standard for consent and engagement with and for Indigenous Australians. I could not be more excited to be a part of this kind of organisation. I was so impressed by the support that the Aurora Placements team provided and how dedicated they were in ensuring a good match between intern and host organisation. From my perspective, they did an amazing job! This was a valuable part of my internship experience because it fosters an environment where you have the skills to contribute to the organisation offering you such an incredible experience.  

NCIG holds a collection of genetic material and data as well as an archive containing various documents, many of which contain genealogical information. I was asked to spend my six-week internship developing a report about the material that the NCIG collection contains relevant to two communities. NCIG will be working with these communities in 2018 so the work I undertook was immediately relevant and will hopefully assist both the NCIG team and members of the community represented in the collection.

Compiling this report involved rifling through the hugely interesting archival collection, learning new database programs and the history of research in, and engagement with Indigenous communities.  In addition, I also learnt a lot about data accessibility and genetics, participated in cultural awareness training, and assisted with an educational session with a group of Indigenous students. Through this time, I also became part of an amazing team of dedicated academics, students, and staff.  I am thrilled to be continuing my work with them as a casual employee in 2018.

I am so grateful for the opportunities that the Aurora internship has provided me, not only employment, new friends, new skills and knowledge, but also a clear direction for the next steps in my life. I could not recommend the NCIG or the Aurora Internship program more highly.

More information on the Aurora Internship Program can be found at: http://auroraproject.com.au/internship-program. Applications for the winter 2018 round will be open from 5 March to 30 March 2018.