My Aegean Marine Conservation internship in Greece

Ann Marie Luppino, from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, joined our Aegean Marine Conservation Internship in Greece for 6 weeks. Learn more about how Ann Marie took part in diverse activities, gained confidence, inspiration for her future studies, and shares invaluable advice for future interns in Greece!

What activities were you involved with during your internship?

The activities, roles, and tasks that I have been a part of during my internship in Greece include being a field work team member for beach clean-ups, monk seal, macro-plastic, flamingo, and artificial reef surveys. On two separate occasions, I also assisted with the necropsies of dead turtles which washed up on the island.

Flamingo surveys included monitoring and taking written and photo documentation of a local saltmarsh where flamingos frequent, to learn more about their behaviors. Monk seal surveys are conducted to map the species population locally and understand more about the behavioral patterns. Each week, I was assigned a day of the week to walk beaches (which are in close walking proximity to the base) to pick up trash, sort and weigh the contents from each beach, and then record the data in a spreadsheet. This data will be used later on to understand what types of waste objects are being washed ashore from the sea and were they originate from.

Macro plastic survey work during internship in Greece

When not helping with these activities, I also took it upon myself to go through all past projects within the marine conservation internship team and develop a brochure-type document which includes information about the on-going projects, as well as past projects, which are conducted here on the island. The reasoning behind this is so when new interns arrive and join the Aegean Marine Conservation internship team, they have access to extra resource material which outlines the types of projects they can conduct, what projects they can help with, and how to get involved.

Outside of the internship working hours, I also completed my weekly rota responsibilities to help keep the base clean and assisted with making sure that meals were prepared. Generally speaking, when help was needed during my time on this internship, I was available I helped in any way I could!

Intern in Greece, Intern Abroad HQ

What challenges did you face during your internship?

Doing my internship (during the winter) the weather did initially cause some challenges. There were some storms during the first couple of weeks, so we were not immediately able to get out on the water and conduct snorkelling surveys. However, prior to conducting any surveys, I was required to learn about the local fish species anyway and take a “fish test” to ensure I was ready to help with the surveys. This verified that I’d learned enough to be able to identify different fish species within the field. While learning the fish species I also spent a week editing documentation for a website, helping to update information regarding marine algae, that a prior intern had been working on. After this, I could conduct snorkelling and free diving surveys at the artificial reef site to identify the fish species present. The artificial reef was installed quite recently, just 20 meters from shore, near the main research base.

Snorkelling surveys during internship in Greece, Intern Abroad HQ

What has interning abroad taught you?

With traveling for an internship abroad, I have gained a deeper understanding of the field/industry I work in - both on a global scale and also specifically relevant to Samos Island, Greece. These experiences have helped me to see how I want to contribute to being part of the solution in the environmental movement. I have increased my sense of independence and confidence through new opportunities on my own as well. I am now comfortable with traveling and meeting new people, along with flying alone. I am not fearful to travel in the future and look forward to it!

Considering my professional development, I learned that every organization is different and organization structures vary greatly. I am more accustomed to being given a task and then working on it independently. However, there is more creative freedom to develop your own project and proactively lead it during the internship experience. Although I initially struggled with feeling like I was not making a difference, at the end of the day, I successfully learned the local fish species and helped on numerous artificial reef surveys. I assisted on several other surveys within different fields and gained a lot of hands-on experience relating to behavioral adaptations of marine and terrestrial species. Although I like to snorkel and free dive, the internship experience also encouraged me to focus my future studies on coastal management, with a focus on wetlands and/or saltmarsh ecology, or to conduct research on marine invertebrates.

The goals that I’d set for my internship will follow me on every endeavor I take in life. I will continue to reflect back on them to see my growth and make sure I continue to meet my personal and professional objectives, moving forward.

Aegean Marine Conservation internship in Greece, Intern Abroad HQ

What are your recommendations for future interns?

My recommendation for future interns is to reach out to the organization prior to your arrival, to get more specific information about which particular projects will be focused on during the internship period you have scheduled. Once you have confirmed your participation on the internship, the information to do so is made available to you. Had I have done this, I would have studied more about fish identification techniques in advance.

Also, make sure you communicate with your supervisors and if you interested in something, speak up and get involved in it! There’s no reason to just sit in the office for your whole stay as there is a lot to see and do - being proactive is key! Although I came to focus on Aegean Marine Conservation during this internship, I also helped out with a lot of different projects and gained more diverse experience than I’d imagined.

Lastly, be open to new experiences and do not be afraid to talk to others. Respect other interns and remember that everyone has a different background and comes from all over the world, to network, learn something new, and ultimately have an incredible time.

I’ve learned the importance of cultural diversity and understand that everyone comes from a different background. Respecting that and being courteous to others is key. You will feel more at home and comfortable if you do.

If it’s your first time traveling on our own, do not worry - everyone is nice and is willing to help you settle in! Make the best out of every situation even if it is not what you expected.

Finally, make sure you PACK according to the season and the packing list. You will not regret it!

Aencient ruins in Samos Island, Greece - Intern Abroad HQ

Looking for your own marine science or conservation internship? Internships in Greece are available year-round, as well as Environmental Science internships in South Africa. Whether you’re looking for course credit or simply wishing to gain experience and see the world, we can help find the right internship for you. Ready to get in touch and start planning? Here are the next steps:

  1. Apply first. The application process is non-obligatory and free.

  2. After applying, you’ll receive more details on how to confirm your internship. All the internship fees can be reviewed here.

  3. To confirm, you need to register first. Our deposit of US$499 enables us to plan your specific internship and provide ongoing pre-departure support.

  4. Once you’re registered, the countdown to your internship begins - we can help you book affordable flights for your internship and beyond!