Sarah Proffitt is a recent graduate of Oregon State University, where she studied Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences through the College of Agricultural Sciences. Sarah interned at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia through IE3 Global Internships during summer 2013 and served as an IE3 Global Internships Student Ambassador after returning to the States.
Many of us have heard the phrase “everything in Australia is trying to kill you,” but I would argue just the opposite—that everything in Australia made me feel alive! In the summer of 2013 I ventured to the Northeast coast of Australia for an IE3 internship working with several species of bats.
As a wildlife science major, I had been training for the past three years to conduct my own research and decided on a behavioral project observing a colony in Cairns. Each day I would sit in front of the colony, which consisted of about 700 large fruit bats, and observe them for 6 hours. I wrote down aggression behaviors, grooming, sleeping, etc. The idea was to find out what these bats were doing all day. As a nocturnal species I expected to observe sleeping bats all day but I found they were much more active and took intermittent naps throughout the day.
When I wasn’t at the colony I took part in other studies such as mist netting for small blossom bats to determine diet and volunteering at a local bat rehabilitation center. Each experience had its own challenges but with every challenge comes a great reward. The experiences I gained from my IE3 internship have led me to my first job as a college graduate. As of May 2014, I have been working for the Forest Service as a bat surveyor in the Missouri Ozarks. Without my IE3 internship I wouldn’t have even been a candidate for this job. My future boss was impressed with my experience and told me I was her first choice, right off the bat (no pun intended).
Now that I’ve graduated, I would eventually like to go back to school to pursue a Master’s degree. As for now, I am planning on taking a few years to work in my field. Maybe I will find new inspiration or maybe I will find myself abroad again. That’s what is so great about the future…it is life’s greatest mystery.