How to get international work experience while living in Sydney

17 February 2021
Meet Public Policy student and Global Greens intern, Kaustubh Bhakay
Master of Public Policy student Kaustubh Bhakay on why he swapped India for Sydney and how the Social Justice internship program enabled him to work with international experts in policymaking on climate action initiatives.

Why did you choose to study Public Policy at the University of Sydney?

I have always been fascinated with all aspects of policy development, from research to implementation. Back in India, I worked for a conservation NGO on government and privately funded projects. Working with a wide variety of stakeholders helped me realise that I needed to learn more about the public policy making process.

Studying abroad felt like the perfect opportunity to pursue my passion and the Master of Public Policy program at the University of Sydney ranks among the top programs in the world. 

The degree is internationally renowned and offers a great mix of academic and practical learning that is rarely seen at other universities.
Kaustubh Bhakay

The limitless academic and professional opportunities in Australia’s public policy sector also helped my decision in moving to Sydney. An immigration arrangement that offers a two-year graduate work visa on completion of a Master’s degree was an added advantage in choosing Australia. 

What has your experience been like as an international student?

First semester took some getting used to because in India the education system is quite different. The teaching here is more engaging and challenging, the course is mostly research orientated and that was new to me, but I really enjoy it. Another great aspect is that the Public Policy postgraduate degree only has two core units so I have the freedom to choose electives from various disciplines and really broaden my knowledge.

The academics are also extremely flexible about the regions or countries you can focus on for essays and research projects. 

The course is so open and wide-ranging that students from any socio-political background can critically contribute to the units.
Kaustubh Bhakay

I have really enjoyed studying with an international and multicultural cohort of students. There is a lot to learn not only from your professors, but also from your peers.

What was the biggest highlight doing an industry placement with the Global Greens?

Interning with the Global Greens, a partnership of the world’s environmental movements and Green political parties, gave me good insight into working in an international organisation.

In the lead up to the 2021 UN International Climate Change Conference (COP), I got the opportunity to work on a research project examining how Green parties around the world can ensure effective engagement in global climate change negotiations. Since this was a broad research topic, we decided to focus on creating a matrix of Green parties based on their strengths and roles in their respective national legislatures.

Arriving at a matrix of more than 30 Green parties with national representations, each with varying capacity and political and social context was no easy task.

My industry supervisor leveraged her contacts and was able to connect me with experts who had extensive experience in international policy making. Their input was essential in narrowing the scope of the research and providing a clear focus for building the matrix of Green parties. Having worked at the United Nations and other international organisation, their insights were very helpful and it was great experience for me getting to deal with stakeholders at that level.

How do you think the Master of Public Policy will impact your future career?

I would like to work in a multilateral organisation and I am very passionate about the environment and conservation. This postgraduate degree has introduced me to a range of theories and aspects of policy making. The scope of pursuing my passion has expanded, just by being a part of this degree and the University of Sydney community. 

Three semesters into the program and I now understand the adage, ‘the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know’, in a good way though. I feel that the coursework and Social Justice Placement program are definitely important and essential in preparing you for the job market, or the next stage in your academic or professional career.   

What advice would you give to international students thinking about studying abroad?

Just do it. If you are ready to put in the effort and if you want to fulfil your ambitions then step out of your comfort zone, take the leap even if it’s hard, it will all be worth it. Things may not always go to plan, but you will learn no matter what.

One of the amazing things at The University of Sydney is the support services, ranging from academic writing to counselling to legal advices that can help you transition to university life and beyond. Take full advantage of them and get involved in the campus community as much as possible.

The Social Justice Placement program is available through SCLG6923: Social Justice Vocational Project Design and SCLG6913: Social Justice Vocational Placement units of study.

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