Sophie Rolph completed a double degree at The Australian National University (ANU) graduating with a Bachelor of International Security Studies and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours). Her decision-making process to study the Bachelor of International Security Studies wasn’t easy.
Throughout high school, I never had one favourite subject, so choosing a degree was a difficult decision for me. I was always interested in international affairs and I also wanted to experience college life in a different city. As Australia’s top university, with a unique degree of International Security Studies, ANU and Canberra seemed the obvious choice.
Sophie comments that what she enjoyed the most about her degree is how it evolved over the years while she was studying at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP). “The great thing about the introductory subjects in the first year is the breadth of content that you are exposed to. When I started at ANU, I thought that I would focus my studies on topics surrounding the Middle East. Yet after studying Introduction to Security Studies, I became really interested in the Asia-Pacific region - so in the second year, I chose courses that allowed me to explore this interest.”
One of the greatest opportunities Sophie highlights from her Bachelor of International Security Studies is the trip to Myanmar as a part of the Study Tour: The Political Economy of Myanmar, which was sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)’s New Colombo Plan.
“Following the elections in November 2015, it was such an incredible opportunity to study Myanmar, as it is on the cusp of rapid change and development. Being able to experience the country in person and to collect research data based on my observations, exposed me to issues and topics that I would have never considered in the classroom,” she states.
“We took part in a televised press conference with Myanmar’s Agricultural Minister, questioned generals at the National Defence College on gender diversity within the Tatmadaw, planted rice in a rural town, and debated with students at the University of Yangon. The study tour broadened my perspective on many of the topics that I studied in my ANU courses.”
According to Sophie, living in the nation’s capital also has its perks. “At any given time there are so many events and activities taking place, from parliamentary functions to music festivals and art exhibitions. The work opportunities are also great in Canberra. While studying I had the opportunity to intern with the Commonwealth Treasury, the Australian House of Representatives as a Research Intern and worked part time at a law firm,” she said.
Sophie considers that there are so many ways to become involved at ANU, especially within the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. “As a student representative for the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), I helped to organise Wine, Cheese & Wisdom nights. These events are really special because they allow students to interact with some of the centre’s leading professors in a relaxed and intimate setting. A lot of students find these events highly engaging, as the professors can provide students with direction, focus and practical advice relating to future job opportunities."
After Clerking at Jones Day in 2018, Sophie joined Jones Day’s graduate program in 2019 and she is now working as an Associate in their Global Disputes and Private Equity teams in Sydney. Jones Day is an international law firm based in the United States with 43 offices across five continents.
Sophie comments that she uses the knowledge and skill set that she developed while studying International Security Studies every day. “I learnt how to critically engage in international news and publications, which is crucial in my job as a lawyer in an international law firm. I am so grateful for the opportunities I had as an undergraduate at the Coral Bell School and would highly recommend the degree to anyone wanting a career in international relations or law.”