Meet Our Interns: Building the Foundation for a Successful Research Career

  • 2021/08/12     Dresden, Germany

    Design: UNU-FLORES/Mouna Bourakkadi

    On International Youth Day (12 August), we present to you the final edition of our month-long campaign featuring the young professionals who have gained firsthand experience at UNU-FLORES. Hear from Hafsa Mahmood (Pakistan), Natchiyar Balasubramamian (India), Jane Adim (Nigeria), and Raghid Shehayeb (Lebanon) who supported the Institute’s research during their internship stints.

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

    Hafsa Mahmood: During my studies, I realised the importance of working in a multicultural environment. It showed me that diverse ideas and opinions can nurture the learning environment and bring innovation to the drawing board. That is why I developed a keen interest to work at UNU-FLORES as it offers a culturally diverse experience.

    Jane Adim: My desire to gain professional experience and acquire skills in monitoring and managing environmental resources in developing countries motivated me to do an internship at UNU-FLORES. As an inclusive organisation, I felt confident sharing my ideas and learning the requisite skills to be effective as an intern and student at UNU-FLORES. It was nothing short of my expectation.

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

    Raghid Shehayeb: I was involved in three projects which were all related to water management and cooperation. As a highlight of my work, I moderated the weekly virtual sessions of the International Water Colloquium which has greatly boosted my self-confidence and communication skills.

    Natchiyar Balasubramamian: My work contributed to identifying efficient ways to measure the impact of companies on biodiversity, enabling them to prevent biodiversity degradation and support its protection.

    Hafsa Mahmood: The project I worked on focused on furthering the understanding of the impact of pharmaceuticals on groundwater due to managed aquifer recharge with wastewater. I underwent two months of extensive fieldwork of primary data collection on-site in Tunis, data analysis in the lab, secondary data collection at the respective water institutes, and conducting interviews of all stakeholders involved.

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

    Natchiyar Balasubramamian: As a research intern, I was expected to be independent, communicate effectively, stick to deadlines, and to have the skills for conducting a systematic literature review.

    Raghid Shehayeb: In addition to good presentation and communication skills – which are basic needs for this position – being proactive and taking initiative are key to make the best out of this outstanding opportunity.

    Hafsa Mahmood: To accomplish the goals of a project, one must employ a wide range of skills that include day-to-day problem-solving skills, technical expertise, and social skills, such as strong communication, leadership, and teamwork skills. Moreover, patience and maintaining a positive attitude are very crucial.

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

    Jane Adim: I encourage everyone who is motivated to contribute to the research of resource management geared towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to seize this life-transforming opportunity.

    Natchiyar Balasubramamian: I had the opportunity to work with great colleagues and experts from different disciplines. Interdisciplinarity and diversity create a cheerful learning atmosphere.

    Raghid Shehayeb: To all fellow students or recent graduates in the field of water resources, I recommend this opportunity to build the foundation of your future career.

    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 campaign series, we feature the young brilliant minds that have played a big part in many of our activities and events.