ANU interns complete work experience at PHA

  • ANU interns complete work experience at PHA image

Plant Health Australia (PHA) recently had the pleasure of hosting three students from the Australian National University (ANU) for a semester-long Science Internship Program.

The Science Internship Program offered students an opportunity to apply their technical skills and science training, while experiencing a career in a professional science context.

“The program was targeted towards university students who are graduating with a science-related degree and will be joining the workforce soon,” said Dr Lucy Tran-Nguyen, PHA General Manger, Partnerships and Innovation.

The students were assigned to a range of projects within PHA that offered hands-on work experience based on each individual’s educational background and professional objectives.

The interns were assigned to work on the National Plant Biosecurity Strategy, supporting the National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostic Network (NPBDN) and Plant Surveillance Network Australasia-Pacific (PSNAP), and assisting the marketing and communications team to conduct research for the Farm Biosecurity Program.

The students were assessed at the end of their internship, each delivering a project proposal outlining the scope of the project to be undertaken alongside a written report that outlined the project scope, outcomes and recommendations. Each student delivered an oral presentation to the PHA Executive Management Team and ANU academics.

Here’s what the interns had to say about their time at PHA.

Adam Correa

Adam worked on the National Plant Biosecurity Strategy’s 2022-23 Implementation Report.

“I drafted updates against activities and refined working documents to aid future reporting efforts. This also involved designing, proposing, and organising the elements of the project.” Adam explained.

“The most rewarding aspect for the internship was the experience of managing the direction of the project,” Adam said. “Though it was under supervision, I still had the freedom to set my own goals, explore different solutions, and organise myself in a professional environment.”

Adam really enjoyed the experience of interning at PHA, and feels like he left with more skills and experience under his belt.

“I got more out of it than I was expecting when enrolling in the university course and I would recommend it to other students.”

Magdalen Plater

Magdalen (Magda) supported the surveillance and diagnostics team to develop the NPBDN and PSNAP network expert registers. The expert registers will be used to easily source information on biosecurity expertise in Australian and around the world. She also provided administrative support for the Annual Diagnostics and Surveillance Workshop (ADSW).

“I learnt valuable new project management skills,” Magda said. “This included producing a project proposal, developing a GANTT chart and updating my supervisors on the project’s progress and barriers. I also gained a greater appreciation of how to work in an office-based environment.”

According to Magda the highlight of the internship was being able to attend the Annual Diagnostics and Surveillance Workshop (ADSW) as it increased her understanding of the extensive work that PHA does and the size of their membership networks.

“By attending ADSW I was able to gain some industry experience that I would not have been exposed to by remaining in the office and learn more about the fields of surveillance and diagnostics.”

Reese Chen

Reese worked in the marketing and communications section, conducting extensive research and building a toolkit for the Farm Biosecurity Program based on the latest report of national data. Reese was also given the opportunity to join daily marketing and communications team meetings.

“I learnt more about the intricacies of what working in marketing and communications is really like. Seeing the real-world applications of marketing strategies at play was undoubtedly one of the most valuable experiences I have had at PHA,” Reese said.

What I most appreciated were the many moments where my supervisor and co-workers would stop the conversation and take the time to explain the reasons why and how they were doing certain things. There were countless patient explanations, funny off-topic conversations, and genuine pieces of advice which I appreciated.”

The Program offered insight into the day-to-day operations of a not-for-profit organisation in the science industry, providing the students with a better understanding of the corporate workplace and biosecurity in general. We would like to thank Adam, Magda and Reese for the excellent work they have done, and we will follow their future career paths with interest.