Australian American Leadership Dialogue

Australian American Leadership Dialogue’s partnership with La Trobe University has enabled the busy not-for-profit to build a work-based learning program that is mutually beneficial for its team and students eager to learn.

Partnership at a glance

  • Australian American Leadership Dialogue (AALD) tailors its internships to capitalise on the strengths, fields of study and interests of incoming students
  • The 400-hour placement gives students an opportunity to see a whole project through – not just to help plan an event, but also attend it
  • Opportunities are open to students studying almost any degree, from business to global politics
  • The small AALD team benefits from the enthusiasm of students and the extra hands-on deck.

Case study

La Trobe University students are given the opportunity to help cement Australia – United States diplomatic relations as part of an internship partnership scheme.

At AALD, students are considered a vital asset to the team and gain a wealth of experience during their placement.

AALD is a not-for-profit organisation that brings together representatives from government, enterprise, media, education and the community to help review and refine the parameters of the Australia – United States bilateral relationship.

As well as establishing cross-country partnerships, AALD runs a series of important forums and dialogues in the US and Australia on issues such as defence and security.

“(Students) do work that is absolutely fundamental to the success of our events,” says AALD Executive Director Lisa Mittelman.

Student intern, Petria Roiniotis is in her second of a three-year Global Politics degree and began her placement doing research across the AALD pillars.

She relishes the opportunity to gain insight into what goes on behind the scenes in diplomatic relations, and has key planning and organisation responsibilities at AALD.

“I’ve made a couple of calls to delegates in America and ministers to get feedback on the forums.

“You have to be really precise… and make sure everything is at a really high standard.”

Ms Mittelman explains that as AALD is “a pretty slim operation doing big things”, students can hit the ground running. Tasks range from overseeing registrations to copyrighting for websites and program handbooks, scanning documents, database entry, and even reconciling accounts.

The placement program is designed to be mutually beneficial. Students are exposed to a not-for-profit work environment, and the organisation benefits from the enthusiasm of interns, as well as their fresh perspectives and approaches to work.

La Trobe students commit to 400 hours at AALD – typically two days a week per semester – and, although the internships are unpaid, gain access to leadership opportunities, such as sessions with AALD CEO Tony Smith, a former speaker of the Australian House of Representatives.

The AALD placement program is open to students studying almost any degree, from business to global politics. To capitalise on the talent available through La Trobe’s student network, AALD structures each internship placement around the individual student’s knowledge and interests.

I find the La Trobe students just have a good attitude and a willingness to learn and try new things.

Lisa Mittelman
Executive Director,
Australian American Leadership Dialogue (AALD)

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