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A new internship program is helping University of Queensland students work with vulnerable communities overseas.

UQ Master of Development Practice student, Rebecca Upton, said it was incredibly fulfilling to work on projects delivering real benefits for communities.

Rebecca completed an internship in March 2011 with UQ’s main commercialisation company UniQuest, in the International Development Division, and is now working part time for the expanding group.

“My passion lies with working in developing countries, so it’s been a fantastic experience to work with UniQuest, which has such a great reputation and involved with a lot of important projects overseas,” said Rebecca.

The internship has exposed me to a wide scope of the business; I’ve gained an incredible insight into the industry, and learnt so much. Ultimately, this is the type of work I’d like to continue with into the future,” she said.

UniQuest’s International Development Division is one of Asia-Pacific’s leading university-owned development groups with clients including AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank.

The internship program was implemented as part of a closer working relationship between UniQuest and the Social and Behavioural Sciences (SBS) Faculty.

International Development Division General Manager, Mel Dunn, who also holds a Conjoint Associate Professor position within UQ’s Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, said the collaboration with SBS set UniQuest apart from its competitors and enhanced UQ’s contribution to international development and engagement objectives.

“UniQuest’s technical expertise and program management in international development has always been significantly enhanced by the intellect, capability and experience of UQ, and now we are directly accessing the latest learning in the sector and applying it to our work with communities,” said Mr Dunn.

“The internship program has been terrific and a clear example of ‘the UQ Advantage’ that is attracting postgraduate students to Brisbane. UQ students are gaining an additional level of exposure to the development sector beyond what they’re learning academically, and UniQuest is getting smart, enthused people to join our team and contribute to fresh solutions for our clients,” he said.

SBS Faculty Executive Dean, Professor David de Vaus said he wasn’t aware of any other Australian university that had ‘on-campus’ access to an international development company.

“UQ students have a very extraordinary opportunity to apply their theoretical training while also leveraging the expertise of development sector professionals,” said Professor de Vaus.

UniQuest’s Technology Commercialisation Division has also implemented an internship program. Each semester up to eight UQ Business School students have the opportunity to work as technology analysts within the company.

Further information about UniQuest’s internship programs can be found at https://www.uniquest.com.au/internships.

Image: Interns Rebecca Upton (seated left) and Eva Kiriakoff (seated right) working with UniQuest's Suzanne Brangwin and Mel Dunn in the International Development Dvision