Alice Shen

Alice Shen 440px

Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Arts
(majoring in International Business, Management, International Relations and French)

When graduating Commerce and Arts student, Alice Shen started at ANU she admits she came with no fixed idea about her future career, but armed with a few preconceptions about university study. Her experiences over the ensuing four years, both in and out of the classroom have helped her see things a little differently, and shape her future plans.  
“When I started my degree I expected to learn a lot of theory and have nothing that I could use in the workplace. Over the years, though, I have had all these amazing experiences, like being able to do research papers through parliament and internships where people actually commented on the skills that I have learnt – especially through my commerce degree where we had to do practical report writing and so on. It’s been really good.”
“The course in International Marketing [with Dr Vinh Lu] was a real highlight. This was the first time we were working with a live client and we could actually see theory in action – we could see it helping us to think strategically building our skills and then using them for something practical, rather than just remembering this or that model. That was a point in my degree when I realised I was learning something really useful that I would remember and use in the future.
“Another great thing about ANU is that with the small class sizes, lecturers are always looking for potential in students. I had the opportunity to tutor for a semester and over that period it really helped my learning. I found that I totally turned my thinking around about a whole lot of things.”
Another standout experience for Alice was her participation in the Australian National Internship Program (ANIP) earlier this year. She opted for defence, and was duly placed with Sea Power Australia, an autonomous think tank in maritime strategy. The program involved producing a substantial research report over the course of a semester.
“The research topic I was given – which was actually set by the Chief of Navy – was the economics of sea power. It was pretty cool to be looking at something relevant to the current environment… My report actually evolved a lot. At the start it was the broad economics of sea power, but when I finished it was focusing on security risks in the oil and gas industry. I covered a considerable amount of detail in a three month program.”
This experience, combined with a previous summer internship at the Department of Infrastructure has helped Alice decide to pursue a public service career.

[A] great thing about ANU is that with the small class sizes, lecturers are always looking for potential in students. I had the opportunity to tutor for a semester and over that period it really helped my learning. I found that I totally turned my thinking around about a whole lot of things.


“I didn’t really start at ANU with a mindset for private or public sector, but being in Canberra, you have that access to high-level policy work experience. I also realised that at this point of my life, I wanted what the APS offers in terms of work-life balance, development and further learning.”
Despite those invaluable internship experiences, Alice still felt that securing employment in the public service would be a big challenge.
“It has always been reassuring to know that I was at a university that would give me the employability that I needed. When I did interviews I didn’t have to freak out about how to justify that I would fit the role.
“However, I really thought it wasn’t feasible to finish my undergraduate degree and get a job because everyone tells you how competitive the job market is, and how in graduate programs everyone already has their Masters. But then I discovered through the ANU Careers Centre that you can go and get an internship straight out of university.”
She applied for graduate programs in both the Department of Defence and the Department of Infrastructure and was shortlisted for both, but ultimately opted for the latter because of the incorporated postgraduate study:
“You have three rotations and you are doing a Master of Public Policy at the same time. You do industry tours and they will try to place you somewhere you want to go. Because the Department recently absorbed Regional Development among other things, there’s a huge range of options. In my last rotation you do a research report as part of the Masters program and you get to work on something of interest to the Department and receive research funding for it. If your report gets approved it is published as policy information that could potentially be auctioned.”
So it is back to study pretty soon for Alice, although at least this time she’s being paid for it! However, her new role will commence on 16 January next year, so she has a few weeks to enjoy herself, and she’s certainly filling them:
“I’m off to Europe literally the day after graduation, and then when I fly back from London I’ll be straight to work the next day!”

Updated:   5 June 2014 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team