The #AIIANextGen Network is a unique and global network of emerging professionals interested in international affairs and Australia’s role in the world, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. The national office of the institute launched the network in June 2021. At an operational level, the activities of the network manifest in educational and networking opportunities, usually in Australia, including side meetings in conjunction with major events such as the AIIA National Conference, the premier annual event on Australian foreign policy. In addition, the network currently offers opportunities for its members to meet outside of Australia on study tours, and to participate as observers in roundtable and other expert meetings that the institute organises abroad. By creating a cohort of early career professionals who meet regularly, the #AIIANextGen Network creates cohesion around the institute’s various national-level activities.
The network is an ongoing program, distinct from the various organisations, events and projects which cater mostly to graduate students in the international affairs and defence space. Indeed, while that demographic will be represented in the network, entry to the network is only by application or invitation, and target participants are early career professionals who have a clear interest in international engagement, but who have not necessarily studied the formal academic theories or methods of International Relations. Participants in the network have access to special in-network opportunities for five years. Overseas participants have the opportunity to join, but residents and citizens of Australia will form the core of the network. The network currently stands at around 70 members.
The national office will be recruiting 25 further members per year to join the network. Membership in the network is not restricted by nationality, although it is expected that at least half of any annual cohort is made up of Australian citizens, and most will be based in Australia. Members will, subject to finalisation of funding agreements, ideally have the chance to attend the AIIA national conference and one international study tour. Their membership of the network will continue for five years if they maintain their membership in an AIIA branch consistently for that period. Over the five years, they will receive ongoing invitations to AIIA National Office events, discounts to the national conference, and the chance to register for furter study tour places, if available.
Applicants will be expected to meet the following criteria:
• They are early career professionals, typically defined as having entered the workforce or having started a terminal degree in the last five years.
• Their profession involves a robust element of engagement in international activity.
• They can demonstrate leadership qualities in their written application (CV and cover letter).
National office will make its selection primarily based on who the best qualified candidates are for the network, but considerations of diversity around origin (ideally each cohort will have representatives from each state and territory), profession, and background will guide the selection process. The round of applications for the 23/34 cohort is likely to be called in July 2023.