Holly spent her summer as an intern in the Equality Branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet in the Victorian Government. Here she is to tell us all about it.
Like so many law students, I didn’t get any clerkships, and I was desperate to have a ‘productive’ summer because I'm finishing my degree this semester. My brother had worked for the Commissioner previously in a different organization, so I used this connection to make contact.
It was a bit of a right place, right time situation, and the newly set up branch took me on as a paid intern for two days a week for the summer. I was absolutely stoked. I got to work in an area I am passionate about whilst gaining fantastic professional experience in policy work.
I thoroughly enjoyed the change of environment from legal work which I had experienced in law firms and community legal centres throughout my degree. Policy work was really very different, and at first I felt somewhat unqualified, as I was so used to the context of the law. But I quickly learnt that policy writing is not dissimilar to legal writing, it requires accurate, concise language. I had a fantastic director in the branch who instilled in me the importance of short sentences - ‘never more than 14 words!’.
The experience was very hands on and I gained important public policy skills such as brief-writing, but also assisted the Commissioner with research tasks and sat in on meetings regarding exciting projects for the Victorian LGBTI community. I became well versed on the issues the community faces at the moment and was in government the day the Adoption Amendment Act 2015 was passed. It is a truly exciting time to be working in this space.
However, hands down the best aspect of my internship was working with the most intelligent, diverse and supportive people. The Equality branch is a tight knit group of people who all have a personal connection to the work they do and this meant it was a really open environment, full of fun and laughter. Further, during my time in the Equality branch I was lucky enough to man the first ever Victorian Public Sector stall at Midsumma Carnival. I went to events run by the newly formed VPS Pride Network and had a taste of working in a truly inclusive workplace. I cannot stress enough the importance of feeling accepted and supported in your working environment.
My internship enabled me to get a taste of policy work in the Victorian State Government whilst simultaneously ignited a drive within myself to work in an area I am passionate about. I left the Equality branch with a great group of friends and mentors, and some fantastic memories. This experience inspired me to apply for the VPS Graduate Recruitment and Development Scheme, and I can highly recommend seeking out non-law opportunities to ensure you don’t just chase the corporate law dream because it is expected of you.
It should be noted that my internship was not part of an official program but that there may be scope in the future for students to undertake a similar internship. Students should keep their eyes on the VPS internship page, and if the Equality Branch takes on interns in the future it may be a part of the official DPC Summer Intern program. See