My name is Benita Kaur Bahra and this year I graduated from the University of Southampton
with a BA in Modern History and Politics. I have always been interested in working in other
countries, whether that be teaching English in Thailand or working with the Fijian
government, and so have actively sought out such opportunities. I had already briefly read
about Think Pacific (TP) when I received an email from my university about an opportunity
to complete a virtual internship with TP alongside my studies. I decided to choose a date
which would follow the end of my academic year so that, after graduating, I had something to
look forward to.

There are three programme lengths for this internship: 4-, 8-, or 12-week long programmes. I
opted for the 4-week long programme, meaning I worked 25 hours each week. The internship
consists of 5 key phases: Discovery; Discussion; Decide; Design; Deliver. The Think Pacific
virtual internship is in partnership with the Fijian Government and Fijian non-governmental
organisations (NGOs). This internship stood out to me as it provided me with the opportunity
to work on international development issues, and I would be making a real social impact as I
would be contributing to the Fiji National Development Plan and the UN Sustainable
Development Goals. Further, this internship offered a range of extra opportunities that I
would not otherwise have access to: I would learn about Fiji, Fijian culture, and Fiji’s ways
of life via modules and online webinars; I would be able to attend webinars by guest speakers
who were experts in their field; I would be able to meet and connect with like-minded people
from around the world. Finally, this internship provides opportunities to focus on personal
development and lifelong skills through modules and seminars, placing an emphasis on
helping interns understand more about their character, areas they need to improve, and
providing workshops to teach interns how to improve these areas.

My internship was within the NGO Management sector. The first week of the internship
involved an introduction to the internship and the Fijian way of life, meeting my mentor,
meeting other interns, and attending a virtual coffee with other interns. This week also
involved working through eight different modules. These modules covered topics tailored to
help interns with their self-development by learning about skills and theories such as ‘The
Mindset for Success’. Other modules included learning about Fijian culture, cultural
intelligence, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These modules set the foundations
for the next few weeks of my internship. During my second week I chose my action project.
This process involved me researching about each of the organisations within the NGO
Management sector, including their aims, their past work, and their current projects. Once I
had narrowed the list of organisations down, I read about each of their action projects. I then
met with my mentor to discuss my preferred top three action projects. By the end of my
meeting, I had confirmed with my mentor that I wanted to work on an action project
proposed by The Pacific Community (SPC), which involved researching all noncommunicable
disease (NCD)- related work by civil society organisations (CSOs) and NGOs
operating in the Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand. I planned and wrote my
action project within my third week, leaving me to create and deliver a presentation in my
fourth and final week of the internship.

Throughout the internship, I was offered a significant amount of support. At the beginning of
each week we had a webinar during which we reflected on our internship so far, we were
informed of the plan for the week, and we were given additional tips and advice for that
specific week. Every week there was also a live question and answer webinar. When we
started the internship, we were given access to a Slack account which enabled us to talk to
other interns in our sector, interns who were in the same phase as us, and mentors who would
be able to answer any questions we may have had. We also had a number of meetings with
our individual mentors, who we could also message via Slack throughout the week. Each
week we also had the opportunity to join workshops focused on developing skills such as
time management, communication, and presentation skills. These workshops provided us
with the guidance, practice, and knowledge necessary not only for the project, but for our
lives following the internship.
Prior to this virtual internship, I struggled with working at home. This meant I had to figure
out techniques to help me overcome this obstacle. At the beginning of this internship, I was
given a Google calendar which included all of my meetings, workshops, and webinars. I then
added my own personal deadlines to this, with this helping me to establish a routine. At the
start of the internship, we also set a number of goals. At the end of each week, we would
reflect on our progress, with this encouraging us to stay on track and stay motivated
throughout the internship. Scheduling breaks, whether this be a virtual coffee or a short walk
away from the computer, also helped me to stay motivated. Setting goals, establishing a
routine, a scheduling breaks all enabled me to find a balance between my work life and
personal life despite working from home.

I would encourage students considering doing a virtual course to establish a clear routine and
to focus on time management. For example, at the beginning of each week, you could set out
a to-do list of all of the tasks that need to be completed by the end of the week. Then, make a
smaller to-do list at the beginning of each day to make the workload more bearable. I would
also advise students to reach out of their comfort zone; everyone is in the same boat, and
virtual courses are amazing opportunities to meet people you otherwise may not be able to
meet. Although I am a shy person, I arranged a virtual coffee during which I met like-minded
people from around the world. I learnt so much ranging from the differences in our ways of
life, differences in how we work, and differences in how we each tackled our action projects.
This experience was really helpful as it provided me with a range of perspectives,
subsequently enabling me to think of a number of ways I could go about my action project.
Finally, I would encourage you to trust yourself. This internship in particular provided a
significant amount of freedom in order to encourage interns to take on their action projects in
their own unique way, thus providing the client with a range of options to choose from. This
meant I was able to be as creative and innovative as I wanted, something which not many
internships provide the opportunity for.

I am so glad I did this internship and would highly recommend it to others. Thank you so
much to Think Pacific and the Study Abroad Team for providing me with this unique and
valuable opportunity!

Think Pacific Experience

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