Final-year undergraduate student, Marie-Claire Jalaguier, received a scholarship to complete a 12-week virtual internship with Fijian organisation, ‘Think Pacific’. She writes about her experience on the programme, how her Geography studies have helped her and how her project aligned to her academic and personal interests.
My name is Marie-Claire and I am a third-year BSc Geographer. My interests lie in environmental conservation, water governance, and ecology. More particularly, conservation in developing countries and how to engage local communities to participate in environmental policies and governance so as to protect the environment whilst also sustaining local livelihoods. I was really motivated to find an internship that would allow me to take action and make a small contribution to environmental conservation initiatives. I discovered Think Pacific after they began marketing their new virtual internship programme on social media and I found this to be an amazing opportunity to work in an area related to my interests and apply the skills and knowledge developed from my time at King’s so far.
Watch Marie-Claire’s story
How does the Think Pacific Virtual Internship work?
Think Pacific is based in Fiji and works alongside Fijian communities, government agencies, NGOs, and businesses to carry out projects to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. I spent 12 weeks undertaking an internship in the environment and conservation field and was very fortunate to have been awarded a scholarship from Think Pacific to join the programme! The internship gave me the chance to learn about Fiji and work on creating a genuine impact on the local communities with the added flexibility of working on my own schedule and fitting it around my other commitments and university schedule.
Throughout the internship, we have access to various modules about Fijian culture that provides us with more context of the country and the issues we want to address. There are also regular guest speaker talks where interns can engage with charities and organisations that work in Fiji. We then work on a specific action project and create a meaningful product or solution for a partner organisation.
My project proposal for an artificial coral reef for a local resort
I chose to do an action project for Waidroka Bay Resort that involved creating a project proposal for designing an artificial reef to increase marine wildlife. I was drawn to this project as it is closely related to my current ongoing university dissertation on the topic of coral reefs, marine biodiversity, and local community engagement in Indonesia.
Studying Geography provided me with critical skills that have allowed me to take on such a big project. Having had the chance to develop a range of research skills in core Geography modules (Geographical Research Skills, Tutorials in first and second year, Field research), I was able to conduct extensive research on the topic of artificial reefs as well as how to go about producing a formal project proposal. Optional modules related to biodiversity (Biogeography and Ecology, Global Environmental Issues) also helped me to understand the range of factors affecting coral reef ecosystems and marine wildlife that I could apply to this project.
Though I was working remotely, it felt like I was very much a part of the project in Fiji and that implementing this project also impacted me directly. Not only did I develop new skills and work on an issue I am passionate about but being independent really pushed my problem-solving and creativity skills far beyond what I was expecting. I had such great discussions with my mentor that it genuinely felt like I could make a small positive impact and spark some new ideas for the organisation.