Three ANU students of politics, Eric Chen, Bessie Zhang and Mike Cheung, have returned to Canberra after completing the university’s first internship program with partner institutions in Taiwan.The Taiwan Public Policy Internship Program, which began in 2015, is coordinated by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government within the School of Politics and International Relations.
It is open to ANU undergraduate students aged 18-28 in their third year of study or honours. The selection criteria includes scoring high credits or above average marks. Applicants must be Australian citizens and ideally have some Mandarin ability.
Eric, Bessie and Mike were chosen in semester two last year and spent six weeks in Taipei from January 2016. Eric’s interest was sparked by completing the Australian National Internships Program at Parliament House last year. He’s in the final year of a Bachelor of Asian Pacific Studies / Bachelor of Economics double degree. He researched export strategies for Taiwan’s small and medium enterprises.
“I had always wanted to go to Taiwan at the end of 2015 and it fit really well with my timetable,” Eric explains.“I also wanted the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned at university overseas in a different environment. I could apply both disciplines in this one context,” he recalls of his time at the National Taiwan University’s Public Economics Research Centre. “My supervisor was the Director of the Research Centre and it was the first time they’ve had a person at undergraduate level placed there.”
Bessie Zhang, a Master of Asia Pacific Studies and Diplomacy double degree student, spent six weeks with professors in the National Chengchi University and National Taiwan University for her research project on the 2016 Taiwan elections. Bessie thoroughly enjoyed her Taiwan experience, interviewed professors, political science students and ordinary people and noted how the Taiwanese campaign differed to Australia’s, such as using rubbish collection. “The garbage truck comes every night playing music, locals come onto the street with their rubbish and several candidates follow the rubbish truck so they can meet potential voters in person,” Bessie recalls.
“Professor John Wanna [Sir John Bunting Chair of Public Administration] provided me with lots of very useful and helpful briefings about living in Taiwan before departure and advice on writing a research paper about an election campaign,” she says. “I gained a lot of practical work experience, like how to solve problems and how to interview people.”
Mike Cheung, who is studying a Bachelor of International Security (Honours) having completed a Bachelor of International Relations, interned at the Institute of International Relations in Taipei as he wanted to apply real life experiences to classroom knowledge. “I helped conduct research on three key areas: Cross-Strait Relations, US-Taiwan Relations and Taiwan Voting behaviour,” Mike recalls. “I covered events for the presidential election by attending embassy functions, symposiums and political rallies.”
The internship’s requirements included producing an 8,000-word report in English. Mike’s research topic analysed key factors that have underpinned Taiwan's status quo since its inception.
Bessie, Eric and Mike say they gained valuable skills from the interdisciplinary internship, including writing, interviewing and presenting. “I am more than happy to talk to any prospective students, given my positive experiences in Taiwan,” Mike adds.
Applications for the 2017 intake of the Taiwan Public Policy Internship close on 17 May 2016. There are five internships valid December 31, 2015 to mid-February 2016. For more information and applications, email firstname.lastname@example.org.