“Working Together Towards Sustainable Development”- A Virtual Intern Blog by Mayuri Patel, Aston University

Another valuable insight from one of our Virtual Interns, Mayuri Patel! We love your insights into personal & professional growth, self-leadership and adaptability, and what really stood out was your point about the importance of community – so thank you! At Think Pacific community always has been, and always will be at the heart of everything we do. We are so pleased that despite the global challenges at the moment we have been able to expand the Think Pacific Vuvale (family) virtually.

We never imagined we would be where we are now with around 70 new Fijian Organisations as Virtual Internship Partners, and with the support of a global network of passionate interns. So, a huge vinaka vakalevu to everyone in our ever-expanding family, for working with us and our dedicated partners to support Fiji’s National Development Plan 🙏

An Unexpected Opportunity

For the vast majority of the world’s population, 2020 was a nightmare but especially university students and specifically those that were required to undertake a compulsory industrial placement year like myself. 

March 2020, amidst the uncertainties and new changes to life, I was studying for my university exams and simultaneously applying for endless placement jobs. From practicing for numerical tests, verbal-reasoning tests, to interviews – I was doing it all. In spite of all my efforts, there was still no light at the end of the tunnel as the job market had crashed, causing my growth to remain stagnant for a long period of time. Eventually in October 2020, just when I lost nearly all my motivation and the willingness to stay consistent with job applications, the opportunity of applying for Think Pacific’s Virtual Internship (scholarship) program had popped up. I decided to partake in it and fortunately, had been accepted as a fully-funded scholarship intern out of their 150 applicants. Think Pacific Foundation – my saviour of 2020!!!


Benefits & Highlights

During the face of adversity, Think Pacific’s award-winning program had gone virtual which allowed me to partake in enhancing not just my personal and professional growth, but also, creating global connections by networking remotely with a diverse range of individuals from different time-zones, introducing myself to a unique experience and culture as well as, gaining charitable experience – all from the comfort of my own home. 


The Think Pacific community – Working Together Towards Sustainable Development

Upon joining the Think Pacific Virtual Internship, the Think Pacific Foundation team warmly welcomes you to a community full of like-minded people in a dynamic virtual portal. This community is your virtual internship family, full of driven and eager individuals wanting to make a positive social impact in Fiji’s development. From ‘Virtual Coffees’ to ‘Walk’n’ talk’ – where you check-in on your peers or interns from other streams, share ideas for action projects and provide sufficient feedback to one another, there are numerous ways to stay connected virtually. Think Pacific also allocates you a mentor whom you discuss your ideas with and gain further support from throughout your internship. My mentor was Katherine and she was undoubtedly a brilliant mentor. The passion and enthusiasm shown by her, the amazing coaching skills as well as her continuous faith and reassurance in my work allowed me to produce high quality work in full confidence to help tackle global issues.

Ultimate highlights

The internship entails of 4 ‘D’ phases – Discovery, Decide, Design and Deliver. My favourite phase during the entire internship was the ‘Discovery’ phase as this was the initial stage based on learning about the Fijian culture, the concept of sustainable development and the Think Pacific story. This phase enables the interns to deeply comprehend what is expected of them and helps to set the entire scene of the internship before diving into the action projects with partner organisations. Each intern is then able to produce impactful work aligned with the needs of the people, whilst ensuring to contribute to Fiji’s National Development Plan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (you get to go into more depth about this in the internship – I promise it’s super exciting!)

I completed my internship in the Global Psychology sector and the first-hand knowledge I gained about the problems that the South Pacific communities face related to mental health were shocking. I learned that there is a lack of understanding of mental health, further causing significant stigma and discrimination. Followed by the lack of professionals and the lack of awareness on how to seek professional support. The suicide rates are concerningly high with ‘one individual completing suicide every 36 hours (YC4MH)’. This information on top of my passion for mental health in young people, urged me to work for Youth Champs 4 Mental Health (YC4MH) on a sustainable project aimed at raising awareness on mental health and suicide prevention in Fiji and the Pacific region. 

Personal & Professional growth

My journey with Think Pacific on their virtual internship program allowed me to evolve immensely through both personal and professional development. In relation to my personal development, I was able to fully immerse myself into the Fijian culture by regularly learning about Fiji and the Pacific region through the guest speakers as well as the interns from other streams in the virtual portal. My professional development was built through advancing my employability skills as well as adapting to remote working for the very first time. I will now be going in-depth about the skills that I gained throughout my time with Think Pacific.


Self-leadership and Initiative

The biggest difference between a virtual internship with any other organisation and a virtual internship with Think Pacific is that it really challenges you to take responsibility for your learning and engagement during this internship. Whilst there is support provided by your mentor and the other Think Pacific staff members, majority of the time, you are expected to work independently. Thus, this internship will encourage you to grow your self-leadership skills and use of initiative to ensure you use your time effectively throughout the course of your internship to be able to add real value to your action project. 

The biggest difference between a virtual internship with any other organisation and a virtual internship with Think Pacific is that it really challenges you to take responsibility for your learning and engagement during this internship.


Adaptability and Networking

Due to COVID-19, we have all had to learn how to increase our adaptability to uncertainties and venture out to discover ways in truly staying connected through technology. This virtual internship allows you to deeply strengthen your adaptability skills by introducing you to different dynamics of the virtual world to then be able to network remotely and sustain those global connections, some of the new skills future employers will be looking out for. 



Think Pacific provides this life-changing flexible virtual internship opportunity to gap years, university students and graduates which you can complete alongside your other priorities. There are 9 sectors you can choose to complete your internship in with over 60+ partnered organisations with the government ministries, enterprises and non-profit organisations/charities! Thanks to Think Pacific, I was able to truly explore and heighten my passion for mental health whilst trying to make a social impact on the lives of the beautiful Fijians! I hope that this blog has allowed you to consider applying to Think Pacific’s virtual internship program as it has greatly expanded my mindset and global perspectives. It was genuinely my ultimate highlight of 2020! Do not miss this great opportunity!

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