What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
The work I undertook at the Anthropocene Institute was time consuming and at times frustrating, but I feel that I made a valuable contribution to the Protected Seas mapping project. I was able to undertake research, analyze legislation and summarize it, before inputting large amounts of data regarding the research I had undertaken. I performed research regarding marine regulations and protections in two different countries.
The work I accomplished this summer will be used to input the data and information for “The Navigator”, a free interactive map that provides regulations on current marine life protections and their boundaries in 75 countries, territories and the high seas. This project is so important because it significantly helps improve access to regulatory information for marine areas. I researched regulations in Brazil and New Zealand, so some of my research and findings will be included for these areas on the map.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?
I have very little professional experience as a whole, particularly one of working in a more traditional working environment. Whilst my experience this summer was wholly online, being a part of the general staff meetings and project discussions gave me an insight into the culture of the organisation I was working with. This gave me a clearer idea of what kind of organisational culture might suit me in the future and understanding more of how I operate working collaboratively vs. on my own. I think our coursework at MIIS prepares us very well to work in team-environments given the number of group projects that we undertake in our classes. The majority of my work this summer was solo research and data input. Whilst I think I performed these tasks well, I learned that this is not necessarily something that I would like to do on a daily basis in a job.
I certainly learned a lot about Marine Protected Areas and regulations across the world. It was interesting to talk to the two lawyers that worked on this project and hear more about their opinions on the merits and limitations of marine protection and what could be done more. I certainly learned more about the bureaucracy associated with marine regulations, and that while a regulation may seem worthy on paper, the implementation and reality of these regulations can be a completely different story!
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany
This summer was certainly a difficult one for me, both personally and professionally. I think that this summer however has been hugely beneficial for identifying what gaps I am missing in my professional toolkit. I became very aware and conscious of what skills I am missing and needing to pursue in a professional sense. I hope to use the rest of my time at MIIS in developing these practical skills and partnering with local organisations to create tangible projects and actually implement these skills.
It became very apparent early on in the summer that I struggle feeling comfortable in professional environments. Speaking to other MIIS students who have come straight from their undergraduate studies to graduate school, I do not think I am alone in this. I feel much more confident in an academic setting than I do a professional one. I think pursuing IPSS will be hugely beneficial for me to gain more work experience and to learn how to work through imposter syndrome. I need to be able to identify what skills I do possess and create my own personal “professional brand.”
I really struggled with spending so much time online and separated from those I was working alongside. This summer made me realise that I am someone that thrives off the energy of and interactions with other people. I think that I experienced some pandemic fatigue this summer, and the severity of the crises occuring in the world at times became very overwhelming. However, I thoroughly appreciated those working at the Anthropocene Institute for their commitment to address challenges to marine resources and ecosystems.
Whilst this summer was certainly not the easiest, and I am disappointed in myself that I did not make the most out of this opportunity, but this quote from Sylvia Earle is something that I often think back to when all seems hopeless: “It is the worst of times but it is the best of times because we still have a chance.”