From intern to research assistant – one beneficiary’s story

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When I knocked on the door of Environmental Governance Institute (EGI) in January 2014, I was looking for a place that could help me determine and develop my skills. I was fresh out of university, and I knew that if I wanted to make the correct career choice, I would need some orientation. I started my internship on 1 February 2014, not knowing that I would stay at EGI long after my internship. This is the story of how my internship prepared me to join the EGI team as a Research Assistant.

Researching on people, the environment and governance

During the first few weeks, I had to read and understand different environmental concepts, and make notes for discussion with staff members. As the weeks passed, I did desk research on various topics, such as environmental and participatory governance, as well as community approaches towards biodiversity conservation.

Armed with this information, I developed a concept explaining how communities can be approached and how they can be involved in conservation practices. I am glad to say that my ideas were incorporated into EGI’s implementation plan. I also did some work on forest governance and compliance with forest laws and policies in Cameroon and on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in Cameroon.

Events to promote environmental awareness

EGI celebrated World Wetland Day (WWD) on the 5 February 2014 in Government High School Bolifamba and World Water Day commemorations on 22 March 2014. In both cases, I was involved in organizing the events and even in creating awareness during school environment club meetings. Such activities were very important for me as an individual because I had the privilege to meet many students and interact with them face to face. I never imagined I could stand at the front of a classroom and talk to students but thanks to EGI, I discovered that a person’s talent does not depend on his or her imagination but on their skills.

I got the chance to apply my theoretical understanding to practical situations, and most of all, I saw the efforts of my work being discussed seriously by experienced staff, and where possible, being incorporated into activities.

Communicating with the public

EGI shares activities and progress with the public through the internet (Face book, e-mails), media (radio and television), newspapers, talk shows, just to name a few. During my internship, I learnt the techniques of doing increasing interaction and knowledge sharing with the public, and even wrote some articles.

I cannot pretend that it was easy. Internship requires hard work and dedication, and a willingness to interact and question things. I encountered many new things, and had many lessons to learn about implementing technical tasks, using different types of software and even writing different types of documents.

By the end of my internship, I had a better understanding of what it entails to pursue a career in environmental research. I also realized just how much work needed to be done to get the information and data needed for making decisions out to the people. I am proud to say that my work was evaluated and found to be very good, and when I concluded my four month internship, I was offered the position of Research Assistant.

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