April 4, 2018 - 12:45pm
Internship program pairs students with international volunteer experiences
From Argentina and the Caribbean region, to Ghana, Bali and Germany, students in Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Global Studies internship program are spreading out across the globe this summer for a range of volunteer work placements.
This is Shaniya Clayton’s first time travelling to another country. The Global Studies student is heading to the Indonesian island of Bali to work as the marketing coordinator for Tri Hita Karana Bali, a non-governmental organization working to raise awareness about the impact of non-biodegradable waste on the environment and encourage adoption of sustainable farming practices.
“I really wanted an internship focused on environmental sustainability and farming because those have always been interests of mine,” she says. “I have no idea what I want to do career-wise. I’m hoping going there will help me find purpose. Regardless of the outcome, I know it will be something I can carry with me into future experiences.”
Clayton will divide her days between working on the organization’s farm, going out to local communities for awareness-building events and activities, and creating educational brochures and other marketing materials.
“There’s going to be a large public relations part to the job, so I’ll get to practice interacting with strangers in an educational role,” she says. “I’m also looking forward to learning more about sustainable farming practices.”
Lisa-Carolin Petersen, a Global Studies and Political Science student, is travelling to a very different part of the world to work on another issue of global importance – cybercrime. She’s heading to Berlin to work with Cyber-Security Council Germany, a politically neutral group that aims to advise businesses, government agencies and policy makers on issues related to cyber security and to strengthen defenses against cybercrime. The Council’s goal is to increase collaboration between different levels of government, businesses and academic institutions to improve cyber security, promote awareness of the issue and develop an international cyber-network.
“Cyber threats are on the rise across the world and there’s a lack of awareness about it amongst the general public,” says Petersen, an international student from Germany. “I’ll be accompanying the management team to different meetings, helping to prepare presentations and doing background research.”
This is Petersen’s second summer internship. Last summer, she interned in the German Parliament, where she met the Council’s General Secretary, Hans-Wilhelm Dunn, at an event. Her main goal with this internship is to meet as many people as she can in the foreign relations and security fields, which she hopes will lead to future job opportunities.
“I want to develop more contacts and create my own network,” says Petersen. “It’s really important, especially as a woman, to create a network, especially in security, where there’s a lack of women at the top.”
For the past decade, the Global Studies internship program, open to students entering their third or fourth year of the Global Studies program, has sent student volunteers to a range of different organizations around the world to experience working in an international environment.
“It allows them to practice and engage in what they are learning through the Global Studies program in a real-world setting,” says Dr. Matthew Bowes, internship coordinator and a VIU Geography Professor. “It’s practical, hands-on experience that often leads to other opportunities.”
Students undergo an interview process to get accepted into the program. When they return from their internship, they are required to write an in-depth report on the work experience, reflecting deeply on what they learned, both about themselves and about the global issue the organization was working on. Successful completion gives each student the equivalent credits for three university courses.
Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University