Bula (Hello)! My name is Francesca, and I am currently in my second year at the University of Southampton, studying Modern History and Politics. Last year I completed a virtual Think Pacific Internship over the Winter period.
I decided to complete my virtual internship over the Winter period. In this way, the remote internship was perfect for me as I could complete it alongside my university work. I completed an application form detailing why I wanted to complete an internship with Think Pacific and then a short telephone interview where I expanded on my motivations and why I was suited for this course. I was ecstatic when I heard that I had been accepted and even better, due to the University’s links with the organisation, I received a bursary which helped me pay for the internship. Due to its remote nature, the internship was flexible, which for a student was perfect, as you could pick either a 4-week, 8 week or 12-week internship. The only difference was that the longer internships allowed more time to complete tour project, which for a student who had assignments, was perfect. I ended up initially picking an 8-week project but then I extended it to 12 weeks, and I am so thankful for the support of the Think Pacific team for all of their support.
Who Are Think Pacific?
Think Pacific are an amazing organisation, made up of mostly residents of Fiji that help to support local business and schools through these projects. What drew me to this internship was the idea that you will be helping real businesses with their marketing strategies or helping school clubs to develop sports programmes that will be used. This is giving you real-life experience and real-life consequences.
In addition, unlike other internships, Think Pacific integrated education into its timeline, making sure we learnt about the Islands and its culture, so when we completed our projects we were aware of existing cultural norms or societal views. This helped us to check ourselves as well that we were being realistic with our projects and that we weren’t projecting our Western views onto their society. It was fascinating learning about Fiji and its integration of so many cultures over the years and I’m so thankful to the team for the interesting resources and videos.
When choosing what project to complete you had to choose one of 12 internship fields which varied from sports development to psychology. Then, within that field you had to pick an action project for an organisation. This part was the hardest for me because there were so many interesting projects to choose, from researching domestic violence rates for a woman’s charity, to social media management. All action projects came with the aim of helping organisations to meet the sustainable development goals. I found an invested interest in organisations who were working towards gender equality. I ended up picking a project for an organisation who produced reusable cloth pads, where I had to create resources for a lesson that could be taught in Fijian schools about menstruation, which could also be used to market these pads.
I chose this project as it was so far out of my comfort zone because I had to create a lesson plan that was clear enough for any teacher to teach their class. This was different to anything I had experienced in my university course which I am now glad of, as I learnt so many new transferable skills which I know will help me later on in my career. Also, I chose this project as the organisation was female-owned and due to taboos and sexism in society, female businesses are predicted to fail, and I wanted to play a small part in ensuring it flourished.
During my project I had to be very aware of the diverse views in Fiji around menstruation. Different villages had different beliefs when it came to menstruation, so I had to be very careful in creating my resources so that they were adaptable to each belief system. I decided to make two lesson plans: one for schools and one for the local community in order to help develop knowledge around periods and so parents were able to educate their children about menstruation when the time came, therefore creating a sustainable project. I created lesson plans and posters that could be put up in schools and a worksheet for the school children to help them remember the lesson and remain engaged.
The final step in my project was to create a power point presentation and pre-record myself explaining my project, which I sent to my partner organisation along with the resources. This was very weird to do remotely and it was challenging to record myself, but I am thankful for the team for giving us special sessions on presentation skills and how to present confidently, virtually. After submitting my project and thanking my incredible, patient mentor, we had a final debrief and concluded our internship.
I was so thankful to receive an email from my partner organisation, thanking me for my work and explaining how they were going to implement my project!
Overall, it was an. Incredible experience, and I would recommend it to everyone. I would advise completing it in the summer as I did struggle to balance university work and the internship but on the other hand, it did help me to improve my organisational skills. I want to say Vinaka vaka levu for the incredible team at Think Pacific and the University of Southampton study abroad team for all their support and allowing me this amazing opportunity.