‘For a Better Grasp of the Environmental Dimension of Sustainable Development’

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  • 2020/09/11     Dresden, Germany

    UNU-FLORES offers a rigorous internship programme giving students and recent graduates the opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge in a constructive setting for the practical application of their capacities acquired during their studies. Through hands-on experience, interns work in a variety of areas from academic research, event organisation, communications and advocacy, and institutional development and administration. In this series, we feature the young brilliant minds that have played a big part in many of our activities and events. In this interview, we talked to Zeynep Ozkul from Turkey, who served as a research intern.

    Tell us about yourself. What is your motivation to do an internship with UNU-FLORES?

    After completing my undergraduate study in International Relations at the Bilkent University of Ankara in Turkey, I pursued a master’s degree in Development Studies at the University of Passau in Germany. Both programmes provided me the opportunity to develop a strong interest in understanding the interactions between socio-political dynamics and ecological issues and how local and global processes are influenced by each other.

    I applied to the internship at UNU-FLORES to have a better grasp of the environmental dimension of sustainable development and to increase my environmental literacy to comprehend the concerns facing the environment today. As my previous background is in the social sciences, I also found the opportunity to work with outstanding natural scientists in a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, and multi-national environment very attractive.

    What types of projects do you work on? What’s your favorite part of work/highlight of your internship?

    I had the privilege to work with my supervisor, Dr Serena Caucci, on exploring alternative ways to govern and manage contaminants of emerging concern in transboundary groundwater resources considering the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance. Besides a draft paper I worked on, I also assisted the team with the preparation of event proceedings and streamlining the literature needed for a book project on Organic Waste Composting.

    From my perspective, the best part of the internship was the opportunity to learn about the Nexus Approach and getting engaged in an academic task within a real-world context. Working with like-minded people who encourage change provided me with the motivation to keep working in the field of the environment. Furthermore, I very much enjoyed being a part of an international office with a positive workplace culture.

    What kind of skills do you need to be successful at your internship?

    First of all, being open to continuous learning is essential to expand your knowledge and skills. During the internship process, you are expected to engage in research activities and, besides advanced language comprehension, you need a coherent academic focus to produce a significant outcome. Good verbal and written communication skills are required both on the professional and personal levels to express yourself clearly. I think it is also important to be organised and have good time management skills as time is limited and the pace of work can get quite fast.

    What are some words of wisdom you’d give to anyone aspiring to be in your position?

    There is so much to learn and experience at UNU-FLORES. As in my case, be ready to deal with certain subjects that you may be unfamiliar with at the beginning. But enjoy the challenge and see it as an opportunity to improve yourself and feel the pride of contributing to a worldwide mission to make a positive difference in the environment. And don’t miss experiencing Dresden and enjoy your time with the smart and inspiring people that you will meet!