Bula! My name is Aditi Dutta and I just completed my Master’s course on Data Science from the University of Southampton. This pandemic has brought many changes to our daily routine and most of us feel bored while staying at homes for long hours. Well, I am no different. What made it more of an issue was the fact that this had brought my social interaction to a halt, be it through the networking and engagement which I had with people during my college months (when it was taught offline that is) or through cultural enrichments which I experienced while interacting with my many international friends. So, I was ready for a change and started looking for opportunities to put my free time during this unintentional ‘social break’ to good use. This is when I came across (quite accidentally) Think Pacific and their virtual internship program. Looking at the program description, I instantly felt a connection and it didn’t take me long to realize that this was what I was looking for.

The program itself came with a lot of perks. It promised a new and unique experience even while working remotely, and it was 2 months long. More importantly, it was provided to us by Think Pacific, which is a non-profit organization that is aimed at supporting the Fijian government ministries, social enterprises or charities, to implement the Fiji National Development Plan and UN Sustainable Development Goals. On browsing through their website and looking at the work they have done through the tenure since their inception, I instantly wanted to be a part of the team and contribute to their cause somehow.

My purposeful project included international development issues, which helped me achieve real outcomes, helping me develop my skills and experience. I had collaborated with one of their Fijian partners named Femilink Pacific, in one of their action projects aimed at women empowerment in Fiji, focusing on violence against women. The task was to provide an informative analysis of the situation of women in Fiji and suggesting ways in which the organization can improve its approach to its aims and visions.

Throughout the internship, I had an amazing experience in getting to know a culture that was so foreign to me. Not only did this enrich my knowledge on the Fijian culture and history, but it also gave me a platform to share my suggestions and connect with other like-minded people who are volunteering for the same cause. The Think Pacific team was very considerate and gave us space to explore and grow individually, in addition to providing effective guidance and feedback at every step of the way. What made the experience more enjoyable and intriguing were the daily cultural sessions and interviews of people from the partner organizations, which we had during the program. These interactive sessions encouraged us to question and gain much knowledge of Fiji, which could not have been possible without them.

However, with limited resources and broad project briefs, the internship depended upon creativeness, resourcefulness, and innovative thinking. Alongside the Action Projects, the skills which I developed and improved on included writing reports, carrying out data analysis, creating infographics, and educational resources. This internship not only helped me utilize my pre-existing skills but also engaged me in social virtual interactions through regular calls with my mentor for the project, and with my fellow interns for networking.

This was a new kind of experience for me, especially because of working on it virtually because of the pandemic. However, Think Pacific made it worth every bit with their constant encouragement and engagement tactics every week. Overall, this experience was an eye-opener in every way. It introduced me to a rich culture like Fiji and inspired me to know more about it. The program itself gave us a lot of flexibility and scope to grow as a person and learn more about the country. The best part of the program was the love and support of the Think Pacific team. Their passion and dedication to the cause made it more worthwhile and a fun activity to work on. Involving myself with the projects made me feel like I served a purpose for the betterment of the Fijian people. Definitely, an experience to remember for me.

I would highly recommend anyone considering to gain more experience and skills to try out internships like this, even if it’s virtual. This is a great way of self-development and helps work on certain skills that would be beneficial for future use.

Vinaka vakalevu!

Contributing to a good cause while working virtually

Aditi Dutta

Hi, my name is Aditi Dutta. I’m an MSc Data Science student at the University of Southampton. Recently, I have decided to try out on a new venture for my volunteering experience. My blog aims to document the experiences that I have during the course of the internship. I hope you enjoy reading my post, and please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you have any questions. :)

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