Bula (Hello)! My name is Rachel and I just finished my BSc in Biology and am now starting my MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation. This summer was supposed to be particularly important for me to find a job or a volunteering opportunity that could start building my CV. The pandemic made finding ecological opportunities incredibly difficult due to restricted travel and the increased competitiveness of available work opportunities, so I was incredibly relieved to come across the option to do an online internship. I was initially worried about finances as I needed to earn some money before Uni started again, but Think Pacific offer 6-week, 8-week or 12-week internships to allow you to fit the internship project into your lifestyle, which meant I was able to get a part-time job on the side. I chose the 8-week internship, but I really liked the fact that they were very accommodating and allowed us to extend the internship to do the 8- or 12-week period if anybody was struggling with the workload in the chosen timeframe.
What also really intrigued me about Think Pacific was the wide range of projects available. It opened up opportunities for people to learn about something they had no previous experience in, which I think is brilliant for people who are sometimes not completely sure if they are choosing the right degree or career path. For example, somebody I met in my mentor group was studying marketing at Uni but decided to try out an environmental project and ended up really loving it. She is now wanting to combine aspects of both into her career. The project I ended up choosing was designing an artificial reef for Waidroka Bay. After completing my undergraduate dissertation on coral reefs, I was really eager to learn about the restoration side of reefs as the main focus of my dissertation was on the importance of coral and fish diversity on coral reef health. It was eye-opening learning about the multitude of factors that go into project design, all the way from the legal aspects to the potential impact it could have on the existing ecosystem.
What I particularly loved during my time with Think Pacific, and highly recommend to everyone, was having the opportunity to learn about Fijian culture through “culture sessions”. Learning about Fijian culture and values has not only made me incredibly eager to visit Fiji one day, but it also ended up being incredibly useful for my chosen action project because involving the local community was one of the most important ways to make the project successful on a low budget and to be maintained for the long run. Having the virtual environment called slack was also incredibly helpful as it allowed me to meet and interact with other interns that were not in my mentor group. I was very grateful that I got to meet other interns that were doing the same project as me because we met up weekly and discussed and shared ideas and resources which allowed us to produce even better projects. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with think pacific and most importantly, I managed to improve on skills that I have struggled with in the past, such as having confidence sharing my ideas and improving my networking skills and time management skills. Vinaka vaka levu to Think Pacific and the Study Abroad team for having made it possible for me to experience this amazing opportunity!