Here is a fantastic blog written by Samantha Ellam, one of our virtual interns from the summer. Samantha kindly shares some highlights of her virtual internship as well as giving some great insights on how it improved her employability. Samantha also offers some great advice for future interns interested in making the most of their virtual internship!
Before I dive into my experience with Think Pacific’s Virtual Internship (spoiler alert: it was fantastic), allow me to set the scene:
March 2020, the UK goes into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. My in-person internships have been cancelled. I’m no longer going on a year abroad. I’ve been left eager to do something valuable with my summer and to inject some positivity into the world.
The solution: Think Pacific’s Virtual Internship.
The internship is hugely flexible and, alongside developing vital transferable skills, allows you to have a genuine and sustainable impact on the incredible communities of Fiji.
Fundraising – one very exciting aspect of this internship was the opportunity to fundraise my fees for the program. This was a challenge considering the global circumstances but undoubtedly added some fun to the monotony of lockdown. Fundraising also allowed me to tap into my marketing and networking skills, as well as get the creativity flowing to overcome the limitations of current affairs. All in all, it was incredibly refreshing and engaging.
Community – when you join a Think Pacific Virtual Internship you are immediately part of an incredible group of like-minded, driven people. The community is so welcoming, and we had an incredible time bouncing ideas around and helping each other with our action projects. My overall highlight of the community, though, was my mentor meetings with Zoe. Being able to share my ideas and thought processes and have someone be so enthusiastic and encouraging was such a boost! The passion of the entire team for doing great work in and for Fiji was genuinely infectious and drove all the interns forward in their work.
Discovery – one of my favourite parts on this internship, and something that sets it apart from other experiences, is the emphasis on learning and discovery. The first phase of the internships, the ‘Discovery’ phase, encourages interns to truly understand the context in which they are working and the communities in Fiji. This is a key part of developing sustainable action projects as it ensures interns are genuinely addressing the needs of the population, rather than forcing preconceived ideas of what is important on them.
In particular, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the loving and generous communities throughout Fiji, and their culture. Another striking discovery was devastating mental health and suicide statistics. While I had originally wanted to work with a Fijian Ministry, this information compelled me to team up with the Fiji Rugby Union and develop a framework for supporting young people with their mental health. I think that this example not only demonstrates the variety and breadth of opportunities available through Think Pacific but also the importance of researching before trying to implement change.
Increasing Your Employability
Now that I’ve shared some of my highlights with you, I thought I would do a quickfire of how completing an internship with Think Pacific can boost your employment prospects, before giving you my tips and tricks for being successful in this programme.
Independence, Initiative and Creativity 🡪 While there is some input from Think Pacific staff, especially your mentor, you are largely left to your own devices. The programme encourages you to find solutions to any problems yourself and to manage your time effectively. Furthermore, most of the action project has plenty of room for creativity, allowing you to create something truly unique and make your mark.
Research and Planning 🡪 As I’ve already mentioned, Think Pacific emphasises the value of learning and researching before implementing. Not only do you develop your research skills in the Discovery phase, but once you have chosen your Action Project, you’ll need to carry out independent research around your topic. Planning is vital in this to ensure that your time researching is used efficiently and effectively and that your discoveries can add value to your project.
Digital Skills 🡪 The development of your digital skills will be multi-faceted. From creating your action project to presenting it over zoom, you will be able to demonstrate that you can navigate the digital world and work effectively through technology, a vital skill that contributes to your adaptability in the workplace.
Your internship could be as long as eight weeks, so it’s important to plan your time effectively so that you don’t have to rush when deadlines approach. A top tip from my mentor in this regard is to block out time for things as soon as they come up. This means you don’t have to worry about fitting it in because it will already be there, and it allows you to work around any prior plans and commitments.
- Make the most of the support available.
The support provided by the Think Pacific team is truly invaluable. From Monday briefings to your mentor meetings, there are so many opportunities to get advice and share ideas that will only help to improve your action project, so make the most of it! It can also be great for morale, especially as you’ll likely be working alone most of the time. That human interaction is something to treasure.
This is fairly self-explanatory, but the more you engage with fellow interns, or make time for events throughout the week, the more you will gain from the internship as a whole, and the better your action project can be!
As part of the internship, you will be provided with a self-reflection journal. I urge you to use this regularly. Not only can it help you to get the most of your mentor meetings, but it will also allow you to see your achievements and where you could improve, which could be invaluable in an interview setting. So please don’t disregard this!
I hope that my brief insight into Think Pacific’s Virtual Internship has been interesting and useful to anyone who might be considering applying. If you’re on the fence I wholeheartedly encourage you to go for it! It was the highlight of my summer and has shaped me as a person and my perspectives on the world!