Some highlights of my previous week that provide an indication of what it takes to be a successful intern.

  • Take advantage of opportunities! 

My working week actually began on Sunday afternoon. My supervisor approached me during lunchtime on Sunday and asked if I wanted to help with the necropsy of a turtle that was found stranded on a beach about 30 minutes away. I had already made plans for the afternoon  with my friends, but I had never had the chance to join a necropsy and so I decided that it would be a good idea to participate. My friends came along and were the “camera team” and they watched the necropsy as well. Overall, it was a really enjoyable and productive afternoon because I got hands on experience doing the necropsy. 

This is the type of situation that reminds me that it is so important to take advantage of every opportunity that you come across. Even if it may seem insignificant at the time or outside the lines of your internship description, all experiences will provide a new learning experience. It could be a learning experience that shows you what you do not want to do in the future, or rather you discover something that you really enjoy. Either way I think that it is important to always “say yes” and make the most out of your internship period.

Measurements of the turtle.
Removal of the intestines and stomach contents.
Measurement of the turtle, and removal of some claws.
  • Interact with all of your peers – you never know who could provide valuable knowledge.

I spent one morning this week kayaking to collect water samples. Each time that we go out we have to take a backup kayak for safety reasons, and each time I try to ask different people to come along. I have found that including different people in your project, even in a small way like a backup, provides a range of insights and questions that you may not have considered before. It is very useful and a good idea to take into account other people’s thoughts, because a perspective different from your own is always important for reflection and improvement of your own work.

Kayaking with Loutje (my usual partner) and the backup team.
  • Be enthusiastic to learn and prove yourself as a valuable member of the team.

I have realized that it is very important to be an enthusiastic intern who is proactive about learning. Particularly in an organization such as Archipelagos where there are many interns over the summer months, it is essential to be recognized as a valuable member of the team. One example that emphasizes the importance of showing that you are motivated and able to be of use is during the marine mammal boat surveys. There are only about 8 places available for interns per survey due to the limit of the boat but there are usually more people on the team at any time. I have observed that people who are recognizably more useful and active about participating are primarily considered for these surveys. It is always a good idea to show your interest by asking questions if you are unsure, and volunteering to help out wherever you can. This sort of attitude will contribute to a successful and fruitful internship experience.

On the boat survey this week, we spotted two bottlenose dolphins. In previous surveys, a resident pod of common dolphins and other common dolphins are usually spotted. Therefore, I was very fortunate to be a part of this boat survey. The dolphins were spotted travelling and they approached the boat. A few minutes later one dolphin leaped out of the water and it was a very interesting behavior to observe. We were able to watch the dolphins for about 15-20 minutes until they disappeared from our line of sight. During this survey, I had my camera to take pictures and I was able to do one 30 minute transect to collect water samples.

Sunrise from the boat.
One bottlenose dolphin that we spotted.

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