Editor’s note: This is a blog from the first round of internships, ending in August, 2016.
I recently finished my master’s in Geography from Memorial University in St. John’s. After returning to my hometown in BC, I was tasked with finding a job. Even though I’d taken time off between terms and degrees to work, this was the first time I didn’t have school on the horizon as my clear ‘next step.’ Deciding to part ways with academia (at least for the foreseeable future) and enter the ‘real world’ marked a daunting and exciting new phase for me. I’d created a fairly extensive list of criteria for the type of work I wanted to do, what I wanted my future work environment to be like, and what I hoped to find in a supervisor. Admittedly, my list was—and continues to be—fairly idealistic, but I was determined not to fall into something I hated just for the sake of having a job. However, being at the mercy of a not-so-friendly job market slowly eroded my excitement into anxiety-ridden nights of scanning and refreshing job boards. It’s not that there aren’t jobs out there, but the pre-requisites verge on ridiculous: master’s degree: check! Five years experience in related field: not even close. Finding an entry-level position is particularly challenging. There seemed to be a disproportionate number of postings for CEOs, executive directors, and other senior titles.
When I learned about the International Youth Internship Program, offered through the Marine Institute, I was instantly intrigued. It seemed like a fitting position that would enable me to build upon my skills from my masters while gaining practical experience in my field by joining an NGO’s research project on food security-related issues pertaining to fish.
During my time here in Cambodia, my sense of time has fluctuated between six months is so short and I’m away for half-a-year! All in all, time has been flying. As I write this, I have less than 2 months left in my internship. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Not only has it provided me with a unique transition phase between my masters, and work, but it has also enabled me to live abroad. I have enjoyed getting to know Phnom Penh and am lucky to be placed here with six other IYIP interns.
Although I’ve tried to get a jump-start on the job applications from here, I’ll be back in Canada very soon and will again be looking for work. I still haven’t given up on finding something that meets my criteria. Moving forward, I hope to find work in BC and I would like to continue working on food security-related issues, specifically those linked to fisheries. My internship with WorldFish has helped me to discover and explore attributes I want and don’t want in a job. It has also opened my eyes to research outside of academia and the unique challenges and opportunities that come along with working for an NGO.