Hi, I’m Christina. I recently completed my Marine Mammals Research & Conservation Remote Internship out of Greece. I chose this internship based on my university studies, my love of wildlife and my passion for conservation.
Completing this internship online really pushed me outside of my comfort zone and gave me a completely new skillset. It has given me the confidence and knowledge to be a better conservationist and prepare me for my next goal in life - getting my Master’s degree.
How did your role as a remote intern differ from your expectations?
The first week of my internship was surprising - I found the role to be much more complex than what I had initially expected. After meeting with my supervisor, I realized this internship would not simply be analyzing data for an NGO - there was so much more behind the scenes including a literary review, a research proposal and even a poster.
The biggest part of my role was analyzing photos of dolphin fins to assess the quality of the photos, the type of fin and whether they were already included in the organization’s catalogue. By identifying and cataloguing individuals from a marine mammal species (such as the short-beaked common dolphin) the researchers could estimate the population in that study area to understand whether it has decreased or increased throughout the years.
During my time, I accurately matched all the identifiable individuals from the data I was provided. Some of the techniques I used in organizing the data are now being implemented in the updated version of the organization’s Photo-ID protocols. It was great to see that I could make a direct impact on the organization despite being based on the other side of the world.
What style of working helped you connect with the organization?
Taking advantage of online tools
Because the internship was remote, the organization communicated using online tools. For example, we had Zoom webinars where staff from the organization could connect to talk about the projects, their goals and the organization at large. I also attended online workshops to meet the staff and learn more about the organization’s history, mission, main projects and challenges they face.
Proactively seeking out cultural opportunities
Given that I wasn’t on the ground in Greece, I was not personally challenged by any immediate cultural differences, assumptions or expectations. To get a more global experience, however, I held longer meetings with my supervisor via Zoom to ask about her background and experience at the organization. I also did my own research to uncover others’ experiences. This helped me to develop my cultural intelligence throughout the internship and to learn more about Greek culture in general.
Creating a positive work environment
Another interesting challenge was working from home. While I found it to be distracting at times, working in my own space also allowed me to be calm. I made a strong effort to create a nice work environment and to adapt to the situation at hand which helped me to connect better with the organization and be more productive.
How did the remote internship push you to be more adaptable and resilient?
I was juggling a part-time job that took up most of my time outside of the internship. In order to accomplish everything, I organized and split my work during the days that were dedicated for my internship. By doing that, I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the work which helped me focus. Dedicating certain days of the week to my internship really helped with time management and adaptability.
An experience in my internship which required me to adapt my approach was when I was writing my research proposal. I was initially following protocol as if I was still at university, but I quickly learned that this wasn’t the way it would be done in an actual conservation organization. I had to pivot and adapt my way of thinking to expand from the university mindset. This was a great lesson, as a career in the wildlife conservation field will require me to constantly learn and shift my ways of thinking.
What were your biggest takeaways from a remote internship?
I gained a huge amount of knowledge and awareness relating to marine mammals and conservation. As a result, I feel more confident and comfortable talking to others in this field and feel I can take action on matters that are relevant to my studies and my career.
Overall, I feel more empowered in my field. Despite being restricted from doing physical field internships because of the pandemic, I am eager to learn more about marine conservation, and no obstacles will stop me from doing so. I think this will be beneficial in the future both on paper and in interviews, as it shows my eagerness and passion for marine conservation and my problem-solving skills.
Any advice for future or prospective remote interns?
Some advice that I’d give to others would be to expect the unexpected. I started this internship with the idea that it would be like a 9am - 5pm job, but it was much more flexible and dynamic than I anticipated.
Whether remote or in person, another piece of advice I would share with a future intern who is heading into a culturally diverse setting is to be open-minded to new people and experiences. As long as you communicate your thoughts clearly, and show that you are able to learn from mistakes, you will be able to manage culturally diverse learning environments.
Learn more about Intern Abroad HQ’s remote internships here or explore Environmental and Marine Science internships here.
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