A partnership with the University of the South Pacific is giving postgraduate students valuable work experience while strengthening ties within the Pacific region.
Five Master of Communication students have already taken up the opportunity to spend a month in Fiji as part of an internship program offered by The University of the South Pacific (USP).
Facilitated by Dr Judy Burnside-Lawry, RMIT University and Professor Elisabeth Holland, Director of USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), the internship places students within PaCE-SD’s communication team in Suva and non-government organisations based in the Pacific.
PaCE-SD is a leader for excellence in environmental education, research and community engagement in the Pacific Island Region, providing excellent international linkages for RMIT students.
Through the internship experience students have the opportunity to engage with a range of environmental, social and political issues pertinent to the region, while building practical communications skills as part of a professional team.
Student Sieta Beckwith did her internship in Fiji from May to June and said working with the team at PaCE-SD was an incredible experience.
“Having the opportunity to use my communications skills in an area I'm passionate about, with a team that is on the forefront of fighting climate change was life-changing," Beckwith said.
Burnside-Lawry who manages the RMIT program said this was an invaluable opportunity for our students to gain international work experience and to build an understanding of the issues facing our neighbours in the Pacific., said.
“RMIT is committed to providing students with the skills to graduate as future leaders in communication for social change and strategic communication management.”
“This partnership with The University of the South Pacific builds on our commitment while strengthening our ties with our regional neighbours in the Pacific,” Burnside-Lawry said.
PaCE-SD Communication Officer Sarika Chand said the internship program has been a mutually beneficial experience, with RMIT’s postgraduate interns assisting the centre to meet its goals.
“The opportunity to engage skilled masters students and get them involved in our range of communications activities is a really valuable experience for everyone,” she said.
To date, interns have worked on a diverse range of projects including the redevelopment of the PaCE-SD website and providing communications support at major national and regional summits.
Students have also assisted with the organisation of a training program designed to prepare USP students and other regional participants supporting the Pacific delegations at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November which will be held in Morocco.
Story: Grace Taylor and Wendy Little