Alice Slevison from Asia Options had a chat with her Beijing based China Policy colleague Mark Eels about his experience working as an intern for the ACYA-Peking University Australian Studies Centre Internship Program.
Some background on Mark
Mark has completed a Bachelor in International Relations and International Business at Bond University, and is undertaking his Masters in International Relations at Peking University. He works as a China Analyst at China Policy.
Where did your interest in China stem from and why did you chose to undertake your postgraduate studies at Peking University?
In August 2013 I moved to China to undertake the degree of Master of International Relations at Peking University, Beijing. I completed my Undergraduate degree on the Gold Coast, Australia almost a year before. As I progressed through my undergraduate studies I began to focus more on Mandarin and East Asian affairs. China has the allure of really being the centre of international attention. This, coupled with such a rich tapestry of culture and history makes Beijing a great place to continue training for a career in international affairs.
Peking University is host to the Australian Studies Centre, with BHP Billiton Chair Professor David Walker orchestrating events, research, and coursework for local students. I was lucky enough to intern with the Centre from April to July this year. I am currently in my final year of study, which is dedicated to thesis research. Simultaneously I have been working for China Policy, a fast-paced, strategic advisory service provider that systematically tracks policy discussion across economic and social sectors.
How did you find out about the opportunity?
I owe a lot to the Australia-China Youth Association. Both positions were advertised across their various social media platforms. Having seen the Australian Studies Centre on campus and being interested in acting as a conduit for Sino-Australian relations, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. As soon as I saw the position advert I knew it was such a valuable opportunity.
What was the application process like?
The application process was easy to follow and not too time consuming. The initial stage consisted of submitting a cover letter, research proposal and resume. From that point I was in contact with various Centre representatives until they accepted my application and designated a start date. When the new cohort of interns all started work we met for a group dinner and discussed our backgrounds and aspirations. If anyone is interested in applying for a similar position I would suggest dedicating enough time to think about your application and considering how your interests align with the institution.
What did you enjoy most about the internship?
The program really was an invaluable experience. As I was a full-time student with another job outside the internship it was amazing that aspects of the internship could be performed off-site meaning I could manage time a lot easier. The best things about the internship were attempting to display Australian culture and values, networking at events we coordinated, and working alongside talented people from both Australia and China. I would recommend applying for a similar internship if you have a close connection/interest in both countries and really want to do something to put yourself in the middle of two countries that really should continue to improve ties and relations.
Was the internship paid?
It was paid a Stipend as part of the ACYA-Peking University Australian Studies Centre Internship Program.
Negatives within the program?
My time at the Australian Studies Centre was ideal. It was on campus, which meant that it was easily accessible, and those things that could be performed off-site created ease of time allocation. The only thing I can think of is that because of the off-site aspect I sometimes felt under-utilised. The opportunities to meet important politicians, scholars, and journalists should not be underestimated. The program is a great stepping stone into broader opportunities.
What was the office culture like?
The Australian Studies Centre is exactly as you would expect it. No, you can’t wear thongs to the office, but the people and atmosphere will make you feel like you are right at home. Try to represent yourself and your culture as best you can and you will be fine. Enjoy yourself and try to contribute whatever you can.
What visa did you utilize during the internship?
As I was already on a student visa with residence permit, I had no troubles. I think the internship would really suit applicants already studying in China or those wishing to undertake an exchange.