Elizabeth O'Connor - Wales Centre for Public Policy

What degree are you currently studying?

Master of Public Service and Administration from the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University.

Why did you choose to come to Swansea?

I studied abroad during my undergraduate degree, and I visited Dublin. I wanted to experience studying abroad for one last time, and although the classes here are titled similarly to those at home, the content is vastly different. So it was great to study new material.

What have you done as a part of your internship programme?

My internship was with the Wales Centre for Public Policy, an independent research based think tank in Cardiff. My first task was to research social enterprises and contribution to child welfare services. My second was primary research into youth homelessness in Wales, helping to contribute to the plans to mitigate this. My third project was to meet with researchers and discuss their day-to-day lives and how they got to where they are.

What was your favourite part of your internship programme?

It was particularly eye-opening researching youth homelessness. Some youths were my age, and have completely different life circumstances to myself. It really put into perspective how privileged I am to study abroad and get a Masters. Some youths overcome their situations without families, and meeting them was life changing. I don’t think I could be that brave. 

Did your studies at Swansea University prepare you for your internship?

The teaching at Swansea definitely prepared me for my internship. It provided a crash-course in British and EU Politics, helping with research about Brexit. It was interesting post-internship to see how think tanks can help with the research process, and I also realised the importance of unbiased opinions.

What has been your favourite part of studying here at Swansea?

I’ve really enjoyed the travel opportunities whilst here at Swansea. I visited London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and the Gower. Following the completion of my studies in Swansea I am going to visit Italy for two weeks. My favourite part of the Gower coastline has been hiking at Rhossili Bay and seeing Worm’s head. I also enjoyed exploring Oxwich Bay Castle and Three Cliffs Bay. It was great to go swimming and enjoy the summer weather. The beaches in Swansea are so much nicer than back home in LA.

What would your advice be to students considering studying in Swansea?

I’d say don’t make this experience your first ever internship. You may not be able to learn everything in twelve days, so it’s best used as a path to build up what you already know. Studying abroad is a brilliant experience because your involvement in class and the internship can be brought back your home institution.

The people here have been very friendly and helpful, and it has been very affordable living here. It’s important to budget out a summer schedule for time out, but you can reach the gorgeous Gower coastline for just £5! Staying on campus is also very convenient.