Master of International Relations student Katrina Van De Ven has just returned from New York where the internship of a lifetime opened her mind to issues like the impacts of atomic radiation and the peaceful uses of outer space.
Her ambition to work in diplomacy has also taken a big step forward.
The 25-year-old Brisbane native completed a three-month internship with the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations where she assisted staff during the 69th session of the General Assembly.
Her duties concentrated on the work of the Fourth and Fifth Committees of the General Assembly, presenting the Belmont resident with an exceptional insight into some major global issues.
“The Fourth Committee focused on decolonisation, the impacts of atomic radiation, the Middle East and the peaceful uses of outer space,” she said. “The Fifth Committee, which is the budgetary and finance committee, approves funding for the United Nations’ many programs.
“I supported experienced policy officers at the Australian Mission by attending committee meetings, contributing to reporting and assisting with the negotiation of texts and resolutions.”
Katrina is confident that the experience will not only bolster a move towards a future career in international relations but also help to inform the choices she makes about her career path.
“Working within the Australian Mission provided me with the unique opportunity to learn about both Australia’s foreign affairs policies and the United Nations system.”
After taking electives in politics and foreign policy, she was selected during her Honours year to take part in the Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Program. This opportunity sent her to Washington DC where she worked as an intern in a United States’ Congressional Office.
In the same year she completed her Honours thesis in the field of political psychology, focusing on religious tolerance.
“I subsequently worked for a member of the Queensland Parliament,” she said. “I enjoyed this position immensely and learnt a great deal, but still wanted to explore my passion for international affairs and foreign policy, which sparked my decision to commence the Master of International Relations (via research) program in 2014.”
During her first year of the program Katrina applied for the Australian Mission’s United Nations General Assembly internship program, and soon she was packing her suitcase once more.
“I had been looking for an opportunity to explore my interest in diplomacy, particularly in the area of multilateral relations. I participated in some model United Nations conferences in 2014, including the Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference, which affirmed my interest in the United Nations system.”
New York beckoned, not for the first time, and Katrina threw herself into the experience. She had previously visited the Big Apple as a tourist.
“It was wonderful this time to have the opportunity to explore the city beyond the normal tourist destinations and get to live like a real New Yorker for a few months.
“The first thing I needed to adapt to was the frenetic pace of the city. However, once I settled into New York life, I came to realise that, while a big city, New York is really just a series of amazing, diverse neighbourhoods, each with their own vibe and community feel.”