The Thames Estuary Partnership takes on a variety of interns and volunteers throughout the year. Our most recent intern, Olivia Squires, talks about her experience:
After completing a fantastic eight-month internship at the Thames Estuary Partnership, I was offered a permanent role as communications officer and decided to stay on. I feel especially fortunate that I earned a place on the staff, as I am still at university. But I will be working part-time and remotely (as I have been during lockdown), even as I return to Cardiff University in September 2020 while I complete my Marine Geography BSc degree.
Before I joined TEP on the internship, I had already completed two years of modules and a professional placement year. The Marine Geography degree is a mix of physical and environmental geography, exploring the science behind the relationship between society and the sea. I especially enjoy the modules looking at policy and management of the coast and the ocean, as well as marine resources and development. After being challenged with biology and chemistry, they are now among some of my favourite modules!
Despite growing up away from the coast, I always had a passion for the ocean, and throughout university I discovered that there needs to be a greater emphasis on engaging with the public to increase positive actions and change behaviours towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
It all began to take shape for me work-wise in summer 2019 when I went for an interview with Amy Pryor, the Technical Director of TEP and was offered an internship focusing on communications and assisting projects where needed. I was over the moon about being accepted for this internship, as I was a little nervous taking a different route to the majority of my course mates who were either based on a boat completing coastal hydrography work, or in Fiji or the Philippines exploring fish species and swimming with the sharks.
Starting in September 2019 and continuing through April 2020, I enjoyed learning and training on the job. I was really interested in my new work – communicating to the wider public what TEP does and what goes on in the Thames. I quickly took charge of TEP’s social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as TEP’s monthly newsletters. I also had a wonderful mentor in Jacob Ashton, from Mindfully Wired Communications, who taught me a range of things, including how to use the new media platforms, how to communicate effectively and appropriately, as well as how to make everything I do stand out.
By working on a range of communications, with the TEP team as well as on my own, I was able to learn a variety of new skills and develop my existing skills, including improving both my written and oral communications. My confidence has improved immensely, and I have enjoyed taking part in meetings, as well as attending TEP’s Annual Forum held in the Tower of London in November 2019.
I have also had the opportunity to assist with a range of projects throughout my internship. I was lucky enough to help Eve Sanders, TEP’s Estuary Edges officer, with data collections and litter surveys on Estuary Edges sites, and TEP’s National Coordinator for the Coastal Partnership Network, Alice Watts, with a data collection questionnaire from a variety of Coastal Partnerships throughout the country.
The internship was fantastic, and I managed to learn a lot. TEP has given me many useful contacts and knowledge that is invaluable, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue. I’m also grateful to the whole TEP team for welcoming me (and putting up with me constantly asking them to write blog posts!)
In the future, after completing my degree, I hope to continue working on communications, incorporating policy, to help to protect the global ocean.
Get in touch with Olivia here.