Name: Catherine Head
Job: Science Internship, Coral Cay Conservation
Degree Subject and level: Zoology BSc (Hons) 2:1 Royal Holloway University and MSc Biological Sciences
What was the application process like?
I found the role on an environmental job and volunteering website. After sending off off my CV I was called in for an interview, which was fairly informal. I must have done something right as I was offered the job a few days later.
What does your job entail?
Coral Cay is a not-for-profit international conservation organisation set up to help protect threatened coral reefs and tropical forests. The group runs expeditions to collect scientific information that is used to produce habitat maps and provide recommendations for managing the area. My job is an unpaid internship which includes 1,000 hours in England in the office, analysing data from the overseas reserves, writing presentations and doing research and general administration. At the end of the internship, which started in July and finishes in February 2006, I’ll be sent on an expedition abroad to an exotic location such as Honduras, the Philippines or Malaysia.
Is it stressful?
Not really. My MSc prepared me for the office work and the deadlines are achievable. Because I hadn’t done any work experience during my degree I expected to have to take some unpaid work experience before I could find paid work.
What attributes help you to succeed?
It is very competitive in conservation. You need to be really passionate about the issues, outgoing and inquisitive. Work experience is vital and I hope that this placement will help me find a paid job once I finish.
What have been your best and worst experiences so far?
I think applying for jobs was the hardest part of my career so far, it was just so tedious. The whole job is great as I am working with people who are like-minded and fun. I am sure the overseas expedition which is yet to come, will be the highlight of my internship.
What advice would you give to others?
Work experience or voluntary work is the key because, despite the low pay, the sector is extremely competitive. You have to be really passionate about conservation and I think further qualifications, communication, organisational and good computer skills are a must.