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Five things I’ve learned in my first five weeks as an intern

Written by Bachelor of Global Studies (Sustainability) student Samantha Sutherland.

As I embark on my second-last semester of my Bachelor of Global Studies (Sustainability), I’ve been lucky enough to begin an internship in my chosen sector, at local environmental consultancy agency GG Enviro. With the support of company Director Larissa Rose, who’s both a Bond alumna and current lecturer herself, I’ve had a multitude of opportunities that have helped me to evolve as a student, person, and soon-to-be professional.

Undertaking an internship isn’t always easy, but it’ll be absolutely packed with new experiences that will support your learning in your chosen program, and build your soft skills as you interact with team members, work collaboratively, and problem solve on the job. If you’re considering an internship as part of your studies, there’s no better time to give it a shot.

No two internships are the same, but I can safely say mine’s been the experience of a lifetime – and I’m only five weeks in! Here’s a look at what I’ve learned so far…

Samantha (right) and fellow GG Enviro intern, Hannah Hill

1. The importance of intentionality

One of the really key things I’ve learned during my short time as an intern is the importance of exercising intentionality in your working life. The direct of GG Enviro, Larissa Rose, has given me the language and frameworks to be more intentional with every one of my dreams, goals and decisions. This advice really resonated with me, and I’ve seen firsthand how crucial attaching a tangible outcome to an intention is. My experience at GG Enviro and learning from Larissa have really helped me realise that the best approach to goal setting is a purposeful and direct one with clear markers for achievement.

An example of this might be finishing a class with a high distinction. Having intentionality around this goal might mean setting clear grade percentage goals for each assignment, checking in frequently with your lecturers, and actively participating in class. Being vague around your goal setting just makes them more difficult to achieve – intentionality really is key!

2. To embrace LinkedIn as a valuable connection platform

I’d definitely say Larissa is the ‘Queen of LinkedIn’, and she’s really inspired me to embrace this professional networking platform as a student. Prior to interning at GG Enviro, I was intimidated by and scared of ‘grown-up Facebook’, as I like to call it! The lessons I’ve been taught at GG Enviro have helped me realise I can use LinkedIn to my benefit as a future employee and leader. It’s invaluable for connecting with industry leaders and keeping up to date with the latest news in your sector.

I set a goal – with intentionality, of course! – to check my LinkedIn feed for 10 minutes a day and actively interact with my connections. Larissa and I have also filmed fortnightly ‘intern interviews’ that we’ve published on LinkedIn to give insight into what work experience at GG Enviro looks like. These conversations have encapsulated my key learning outcomes and identified some of the personal breakthroughs I’ve had during my first five weeks as an intern.

3. How to write an Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP)

My first real project at GG Enviro was writing an Environmental Sustainability Plan – AKA an ESP. The company have recently rebranded, and as the company director, Larissa identified this opportunity as a good chance for me to learn, and to add value to my intern experience. With the help of the GG Enviro team, I learned what to include in the report and how to structure it, which I completed by researching other organisations’ ESPs.

I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Larissa on this, and really relish the opportunity to discuss her long-term goals and visions for the company to include in the report. This made me feel inspired and enthusiastic about how companies are exercising environmental social governance. This exercise also made me realise that partnering organisations with sustainable business practices is something I’m really passionate about, and so, will be something I strongly consider pursuing as a career path post-university.

4. Be hungry for internships and real-world experience

Here at Bond, we’re so fortunate to be educated by industry experts – and this is something I’m really conscious of not taking for granted. I’m so grateful to have established a professional working relationship with former lecturer (and fellow shark enthusiast!) Daryl McPhee, who approached Larissa at GG Enviro to take me on as an intern. All of the academic and support staff at Bond, including Daryl, genuinely want students to succeed – all you need to do is take the opportunities that are offered your way.

Make the most of learning from industry leaders by showing initiative in class. Speaking up is always valued and will be met with thoughtful discourse, and hopefully, an even better relationship with your professors going forward. Bond students are also incredibly fortunate to have the genuine support offered by the Career Development Centre (CDC), which is located on campus and is available to every Bond student. Bondies have a huge edge on other university students, as we’re linked with industry very early on, and through the support of the CDC and lecturers, are able to access myriad opportunities for personal and professional growth. The CDC works tirelessly to provide students with excellent industry experience through work experience and internship programs – Lisa Maddison from the CDC has been instrumental in helping me bridge the gap between university and the workforce as I near the end of my degree.

5. Octopus have nine brains

Yes, believe it or not, these eight-legged creatures have nine brains! While this might seem an odd thing to have learned during an internship, don’t forget that the environmental space is super diverse. This fun fact was shared with me by a co-worker Alex. A highlight of my internship at GG Enviro has been the opportunity to join a professional working environment and learn from industry experts. I’ve left every session I’ve participated in feeling inspired and motivated to continue on in the environmental sector. My co-workers share similar values around protecting the natural environment and implementing sustainable business practices, which is really valuable as someone about to enter the industry in the next few months.

Being involved in the environmental sector is important to me because I feel an innate responsibility to protect the natural world. This stems from a childhood spent in and around the ocean in coastal Victoria. Despite only 21 years on this earth so far, I’ve seen the environment – and in particular, our oceans – change rapidly around me. This internship with GG Enviro has cemented my desire to pursue a career in environmental conservation, and has only helped to broaden my mind to the huge variety of careers available within this space that will allow me to partner my skillset with this innate passion.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for me as I continue my internship with GG Enviro, finish my global studies degree, and ultimately, join the exciting and ever-evolving environmental sector.

Help shape the future of our world

Study a Bachelor of Global Studies (Sustainability) at Bond University to set yourself on the path to effecting real environmental change.

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