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Oxfam internship helps UWA student see the big picture

27 September, 2019

The unique opportunity to intern at one of the most-recognised community-based aid and development organisations in the world was a dream come true for University of WA student Lauren Jackson.

The Masters in International Development student travelled to Melbourne for three weeks to complete her McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship at Oxfam Australia.

“I was very excited, because Oxfam is actually where I want to work one day,” Ms Jackson (24) shared.

“I never would have gotten the opportunity to go to Oxfam if I didn’t go through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship.

“To gain an insight into how the organisation works and to see the different departments, meet people and hear their stories about how they have come to working there … I was really, really fortunate.”

During her 100-hour community service internship, Ms Jackson worked alongside a team of researchers and fellow interns to prepare a draft background paper for Oxfam Australia's policy brief on Microfinance and Gender Empowerment.

The Nedlands resident, who grew up in Collie, said the paper would help inform how the organisation ran its micro-finance programs (predominantly for women) in different countries.

Head of Oxfam Australia’s Research and Knowledge Translation Saba Mebrahtu Habte said Ms Jackson’s diligent work and professionalism was highly appreciated by the team.

“Lauren is very smart and highly committed to make a difference in people's lives,” she said.

“In particular, her background paper served as useful input to our ongoing policy analysis and review, which we expect will inform future program decisions in the sector to better enhance women's empowerment.”

Ms Jackson said her supervisor Dr Habte would send her the final policy brief when it was completed.

“To follow along with it, and to eventually see how my inputs will have actually influenced practice, will be really beneficial,” she said.

“It will be amazing to see how my work will evolve into a formalised document – and then go and influence practice and potentially change people’s lives.

“It is easy to feel insulated sometimes and think your work doesn’t really make a difference – but in the big picture you can see it.”

Ms Jackson said she would tell any UWA student interested in undertaking an internship with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship to “just do it”.

“Even if the internship is not in the field you want to end up in, I think to see how you can influence society – even in a tiny way – is so important,” she said.

“To see that has had a big impact on my mindset."