Research Intern, Foreign Policy and Defence Program
Sophie Mayo is a Research Intern with the Foreign Policy and Defence Program.
What is your educational background?
I am a postgraduate International Relations candidate at the University of Sydney. I have previously studied a Graduate Certificate in Commerce at the University of Sydney, and a Bachelor of Global Studies at the University of Technology Sydney. I have also previously worked as a Research Assistant with Global Access Partners, an institute for active policy that encourages debate and policy reform on social, economic and structural problems facing Australia, largely in the domestic setting.
What have you been working on in your time here at the USSC?
Interning with the Foreign Policy and Defence Program at USSC has afforded me the chance to work on a variety of challenging and stimulating tasks that have helped refine my critical analysis and writing. I have prepared research notes for the director of the program, for example on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Leaders’ Summit and the Biden administration’s Asia Strategy and Global Engagement 100 Days in. I have also conducted research on flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific theatre, attended meetings with policymakers, the acting US Ambassador to Australia, and participated in an alliance network event. Attending meetings and events has been such a privilege as I have had the opportunity to meet and learn from some extremely distinguished members of the foreign policy community. Concurrent to the everyday ‘think tank’ activities I have worked on at the Centre, my project for the academic side of the internship has focused on the extension of China’s strategic influence in the maritime southwest Pacific.
What do you hope to do with your experience at the USSC?
During the internship, I have received invaluable guidance from the director of the program, Ashley Townshend, as well as the wider Foreign Policy and Defence program team. Working alongside such talented and intelligent researchers has helped me to develop my analytical and research skills. I’ve learnt so much about the practicalities of distilling research into concise and digestible briefs and developed a more nuanced understanding of Australia’s national security and foreign policy context. I feel so lucky to have been able to intern at USSC. After the completion of my master’s, I hope to work in government in the foreign policy/national security space. I would also love to circle back around to the think tank world in the not-so-distant future. Interning at the Centre has certainly opened my eyes to the possibility of, and merit in, doing both.