As an intern with the South Africa Shark Conservancy I am learning a ton about myself on a personal and professional level. My personal development has skyrocketed in the three short weeks I have been here and my professional development is finally starting to take shape.
This internship brings people from around the world to one central location where we have to eat, sleep, and work together 24/7. There is a mash up of cultures, perspectives, and backgrounds that are shared at the dinner table and enrich the lives of others. The interns are compiled of world travelers, students, scholars, and citizen scientists with a common passion for marine conservation and fishes with cartilaginous skeletons, dermal denticles, and large livers. Through these people I have learned to be confident in my abilities and outgoing. I have grown to understand other cultures and viewpoints that some may not be able to wrap their heads around. Most importantly, I have learned to communicate across language and knowledge barriers. For example, some volunteers or interns do not come with a scientific background but have an interest in marine conservation. When talking about ecological or physiological processes, I learned to break down the scientific language so that I can communicate effectively with others. Not only do I take that as personal development, but as a professional development as well.
In terms of professional development, my communication skills have graduated. I can communicate with colleagues, managers, recreational fisherman, and tourist to portray my role as an intern with SASC. Scientific interpretation is a factor that is heavily discussed in the field of fisheries and wildlife. Within my time here I feel that I am better suited to interpret data and information in a way that stakeholders and the public can understand. In addition, social media plays a large role in professional development at SASC. I am tasked with creating a “brand” across several social media platforms to stay in contact with people in my field of interest. Finally, I have recently discovered what I would like to do with the Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences degree in the future. I look forward to working in the field of fish physiology thus SASC has catered my scientific project towards physiology. As of this week, another intern and I are creating a study design that investigates the physiological metabolic response of the endemic catshark species of South Africa when captured via snorkeling or hand-lining. This project has solidified my interest in physiology and sparks my interest for the future!
In the end, I have only been at SASC for about 3 weeks and have gained more personal and professional development than I could have ever imagined.