Thomas Paterson - internship, study tour and a war-gaming retreat

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Thomas studied the Master of Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC).

Everything started with an interest in studying at a master level. With a Bachelor of Social Science from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Thomas just needed to look at the ANU Master of Strategic Studies (MSS) program structure and its subjects to fall in love and move to Canberra.

Thomas believes that the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) is very unique.

I highly recommend the MSS especially to anyone that is planning to study national security. Why? The calibre of lecturers and internships opportunities. I can’t think of any other place where you can get those opportunities other than the SDSC at ANU.

He characterises the master program as fantastic and extraordinary. “The know-how from well-known academics is very beneficial. There are a lot of opportunities including the proximity to the political heart of Canberra which allowed me to have access to academics that have had a diverse experience working in high levels of government”.

In his view, the beauty of the MSS is that it focuses on the history, international relations and information the student needs to become a strategist. “Thanks to my degree I have become a much more developed thinker and writer”.

Thomas interned with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the experience was “life-changing. It opened the door for new great challenges in my professional life”. Another distinctive highlight from his journey at ANU was the Study Tour to Indonesia. “It was a brilliant experience. One of my best memories from the trip is that we all developed a close relationship with our lecturer Dr Garth Pratten who went to great lengths to organise this student trip.”

Thomas and his classmates had the opportunity to visit the ANU Kioloa Coastal campus, an annual weekend trip that the department organises for ‘War Gaming’ activities. The aim is to challenge the students to deal with real-world solutions and put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom. “It was fun and challenging. The practical activities provide students with exposure to the complexity to negotiate diplomatically. I also learnt to appreciate the resources we have to effectively negotiate and resolve conflicts”.

Thomas is currently working as a Strategic Policy Officer at the Department of Defence. Thomas is also an active Australian Army reservist with operational experience from deployments to the Solomon Islands on Operation Anode, border protection operations with the Australian Navy as part of Operation Resolute, and most recently with Operation Bushfire Assist 2019/20.