During my internship I got some great, first-hand insight into the not-for-profit research industry, especially around water and environmental issues. I would absolutely recommend doing an internship.
Amy completed an internship with International Water Management Institute – Myanmar Office, as a part of her Master of Environment.
During my time in Myanmar I worked on a project called the Myanmar Healthy Rivers Initiative (MHRI). I had the opportunity to work on a number of different facets of this large, 2-year project which involved not only IWMI but a number of other partner organisations. I was lucky enough to be able to go on field work to two of the villages involved in the project (there are six in total). I helped to organise and document the training about community based river health monitoring for the field visits and spoke with the communities (with the aid of a translator) about water quality issues and how these have changed over time.
During my internship I got some great, first-hand insight into the not-for-profit research industry, especially around water and environmental issues. Understanding how these international organisations operate, both individually and in partnerships, is fascinating. There is a huge amount of collaboration, which was great to be involved in and meant I met people from a wide number of organisations, not just IWMI. It was also very interesting to experience how international aid funding is distributed - in this way submitting proposals for funding is not dissimilar to the consulting world which I have experience in in Australia.
This experience has definitely impacted my future career pathway and goals. I now think that for me, the most fulfilling and meaningful way to be involved in international development projects, is to be a technical specialist (rather than a more managerial role) in a certain area. I hope to work in Australia for a few years and get some experience in the environmental/ sustainability sector, and then apply my skills in developing countries.
I would absolutely recommend doing an internship - getting hand on experience in the field you’re interested in is invaluable. Do plenty of research on the organisation you would like to intern for, as it pays to be well informed about their culture and strategy. Finally, have faith in yourself and your skills, you probably know more than you think you do, and if you are confident people will listen to your opinions and take them on board!