Natasha Kate Howells, Master of International Relations and National Security
“So many aspects about my time at Curtin made my university experience unforgettable. I made some amazing friends, many of whom have also gone on to great success professionally, and had lecturers with a variety of experiences that made the course material far more interesting. I also had a lot of fun working with AIESEC Curtin, and with the Curtin International Affairs Association (CIAA). During my final year at University, I also undertook two internships – a research internship with Perth based think tank “Future Directions International”, and an internship as a political intern at the United States Consulate General in Perth. The writing and research skills I had learned at university, in addition to my volunteer work, made me a competitive candidate for these internships.
During my last year of my undergraduate degree at Curtin University, I founded the Curtin International Affairs Association (CIAA). During my time at Curtin, I had always wished that there had been an International Relations club to be involved with – until in my third year, I thought “why not start one myself?” The whole experience was fantastic – I had the opportunity to learn first-hand how to build something from the ground up, met and worked with a fantastic group of people who I am still friends with today, and was able to network with professionals in the field and become exposed to some great opportunities through my role as President of the CIAA. I wanted to create an organization that engages students with international relations outside of the classroom, and provides them with networking opportunities, and teaches them transferable skills.
The CIAA hosts educational events for students, with high level speakers such as diplomats, academics, NGO and think tank directors, amongst others. We also arranged a number of social events such as quiz nights, and through our social media channels like our Facebook page promote internship and professional opportunities to members. I am most proud of the fact that the CIAA is still running after I have left – and doing very well thanks to the hard work of its current President and committee members!
My greatest career achievement to date was gaining employment with the Australian High Commission in Malta, where I currently work. A long-time dream of mine has been to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and this has been a fantastic start to that dream.
During my short time at the High Commission, perhaps the most rewarding part of my job has been my position as Secretariat of our Direct Aid Program Committee. The Direct Aid Program (DAP) issues small grants to local NGO’s (in our case, for Tunisia, as we are also accredited to Tunisia) with projects focused on community, environment, poverty alleviation, etc. I am responsible for managing our applications and communicating with applicants, and bringing them to the committee for assessment. Being involved in this project is exciting, as we get to see real benefits within the community from the money that we donate. For example, this year’s successful applicant was an NGO that works with abandoned children. Seeing the project they proposed flourish, and the children benefit, has personally been very fulfilling.”