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career 4 min read

What I gained from my internship experience with Queensland South Native Title Service (QSNTS)

By Andrew 31 Oct 2019

After finishing my Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Anthropology I was seeking opportunities to gain more experience and skills, while looking to focus my career direction before starting an Honours program. A number of fellow students and lecturers recommended the Aurora Internship Program, so I decided to apply.

The Aurora Internship Program places social science, social welfare, health science and law students, as well as recent graduates, within Indigenous sector organisations throughout Australia that are involved in native title, research, community development, social welfare, health, and policy. There are also some opportunities within the film, music and creative arts sector. 

The program provides interns with hands-on experience, a chance to build skills, knowledge and possible career opportunities, all while helping largely overstretched or under-resourced organisations, community groups, not for profits and government bodies.

An added bonus about Aurora is that they have a number of scholarship-funded internships for Indigenous students and graduates each round (summer and winter). These scholarships provide recipients with a weekly stipend to cover daily living expenses, accommodation and travel costs for those who are placed somewhere away-from-home. 

I was successful in attaining one of these scholarship-funded internships, which resulted in an opportunity for me to work as part of the research team at Queensland South Native Title Services (QSNTS) in Brisbane for five weeks. QSNTS is a Native Title Service Provider within southern, western and central Queensland, supporting Indigenous peoples throughout the various phases of a native title claim as well as provides support for groups in the post-native title space.

My time at QSNTS was highly rewarding and interesting as I was involved in a wide variety of tasks throughout my internship. This included assisting a researcher with an interview of an Indigenous elder, gaining research and administrative process experience, to even staffing a stall as part of NAIDOC Day celebrations. Of the many highlights, the interview stands out, as not only did I learn about interviewing methods and recording techniques required in this field from an exceptional researcher but I also got to meet an extraordinary Aboriginal man.

The compiling of an annotated bibliography for a particular Aboriginal group in South West Queensland was also memorable for me. I gathered all the information I could find that was available from published or publicly available sources about this particular people. This saw me searching here and there nearly every day, seeking obscure references buried in books, articles and other rare materials at the State Library. I worked on this from day one of my internship and it was handed over to the group in my final week. This was a highlight as I have a strong interest in Indigenous data sovereignty and data governance as well as the repatriation of cultural materials. 

At QSNTS I was introduced to and experienced first-hand the types of work undertaken by researchers within these entities and the value of anthropology in what is a complicated and disputed arena. 

The amazing team that I worked alongside during my internship helped broaden my knowledge in qualitative research methods, data collection, analysis and interpretation, as well as textual analysis.

All of the staff at QSNTS were friendly, welcoming and supportive – just amazing really. There are some incredible people working within this organisation and it was a real pleasure to be a part of the research team, if only for a short while. My supervisors were phenomenal and exposed me to as much as possible during my internship (workshops, meetings, fieldwork, basic research, admin tasks, and even NAIDOC Day celebrations), for which I am enormously appreciative. Not only was all of this educational, but such a rich experience also gave me an idea of whether this is the kind of space I may want to (or could) work in. 

Not only did I acquire more knowledge about native title and the work that researchers in this field perform while on this placement, but I also learnt and developed practical skills on the job that I will take with me and will continue to build upon. I also had the opportunity to meet amazing people, make valuable connections and introduce myself to potential employers.

So, if you are a student or graduate that has finished or is nearing the end of your degree in anthropology, social science, social welfare, law, health science or film, music and creative arts, why not give an internship experience a shot! 

The College for Indigenous Studies and Research (CISER) at USQ not only supports the initiative that AURORA Internships offer, they also provide support to Aboriginal or Torres Strait students who wish to advance or begin their higher education journey. Along with the support of CISER, as a graduate, you can access USQ’s Careers and Employability team, who offer expert career guidance, assistance with job searches, support writing job applications and information about events that connect you with industry. 

You can find all the details at The Aurora Project’s website as well as all the specific information for Indigenous students applications.