I took this internship to help me to find my feet, develop research skills, acquire climate change and sustainable development knowledge, establish a professional network and build my interpersonal skills.
I hold a BSc Hons in Environmental Science and Health from the National University of Science and Technology. I have worked as a junior environmental officer at the Environmental Management Agency in Zimbabwe and did some administrative duties at Howza Transport in Johannesburg, but my interest has always been in the field of climate change and sustainable development.
My interest in climate and development work
Having had studied Environmental Science and Health, I was introduced to a variety of courses such as Research Methodology, exposing me to both Quantitative and Qualitative research methods, Management of Arid and Semi-Arid Land, Environmental Information Systems, Environmental Science and Ecology. While offering both depth and breadth across the climate change field, these courses put into perspective the importance and relevance of climate change and development and the application of its fundamentals to the problems faced by the world today. I wanted to contribute to help with mitigation and adaptation measures to solve this world’s wicked problem through research.
The work I did at the ACDI
I was exposed to a wide range of experts, topics and tasks during my internship. I was part of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Climate-Resilient African Landscapes Research Programme. This is a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Cape Town and two other universities from Kenya and Ghana who are partners in an African Research University Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence, and who focus on the priority area: “Indigenous knowledge for building cultures of climate resilience within climate-smart landscapes".
I worked on summarising academic literature on a variety of topics such as landscapes, indigenous knowledge and climate-smart agriculture just to mention a few. I was also involved in academic literature searches, presentations (WUN Climate-Resilient Landscapes short project, Workshop- presentation on Landscapes) and report writing (WUN workshop Report). I was part of the Transformation and Institutional Culture – Food Policy Working Group where we produced an sustainable food policy for ACDI, and I presented on this work. I was also involved in a lot of training activities (e.g. Design thinking, EndNote, How to write a literature review, Research Ethics, MOOCS: (1) Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries, (2) Research for Impact, (3) Climate Adaptation in Africa), seminars (Pushing the boundaries in climate change and development research: UCT’s innovative approach), and attended various conferences and workshops (e.g. ACDI Generation Change Early Career Researcher Conference, WUN Climate-Resilient Landscapes short project Workshop, No Name Initiative (NNI) Dialogue: Leadership in complex-problems research with a transformation focus, Dare to Lead workshop).
What I found most valuable
What I found valuable at ACDI is working in an inter- and transdisciplinary space, networking and learning in the areas of climate change and sustainable development across Africa. I also loved the support I got from the ACDI staff through this journey.
What I plan to do next
I plan to pursue my Master’s degree in the coming year. My interest is looking at the effects of climate change on human health and the impact of climate change adaptation on the global and regional socio-economic landscape.
Advice for people wanting to pursue internships
If you want to gain experience after graduating or need to change careers, an internship is a good place to start. You can gain the relevant experience and skills that could help you land your next big career opportunity. Internships are investments in your career. They can help you develop both your professional and interpersonal skills while establishing important connections in that field. Internships often give you the opportunity to attend meetings and events. By interacting with professionals, you gain new connections and learn how to communicate in a professional environment. Personally, my internships have introduced me to a lot of useful resources and have given me the opportunity to meet a variety of professionals in my field. Networking helps to acquire references and find new job opportunities. Internships can even provide you with a professional mentor.