Forget coffee runs… UTS Science interns are scuba diving in Cambodia and designing health education programs for coastal NSW.
UTS Science student Max Duckworth took the nine-hour flight from Sydney to Cambodia, to complete a unique internship with Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC).
Illegal fishing has devastating marine life and local communities across Cambodia. Trawlers destroy sea grass beds, cause sediment damage and harm the local fishing industry. Leading the charge against illegal fishing, MCC is devoted to conserving, researching and restoring marine resources throughout the region.
Assisting MCC with local conservation efforts, Max spent four weeks diving and surveying the beautiful reefs of Koh Seh Island. The marine biology student immersed himself in the local community and experienced firsthand a life significantly different to his own back in Sydney.
“I was living in wooden huts with no running water,” Max revealed.
“The living conditions on Koh Seh were basic … to endure less than ideal circumstances really challenged me.
“But when the temperature is 30C every hour of the day, it’s perfect conditions to spend all my time outdoors,” Max said.
For Max, interning with MCC was so rewarding that he is already making plans to return for a longer period of time.
“This internship was one of the best things I have done,” he said.
“Not only was it for a cause I am extremely passionate about, but also living on an island and diving every day was a phenomenal experience.
“I absolutely recommend it (interning) to anyone.”
Closer to home, UTS Medical Science student Tayla-Maree Neilson also found inspiration in a worthwhile volunteering experience. After spending three months working at Coast Shelter on the Central Coast, Tayla-Maree launched a sexual health education program for young women.
Initially working in a support role, Tayla-Maree assisted young women were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. She helped many find stable homes, submit Centrelink applications and with important paperwork.
“You help them (young women at the refuge) with learning how to budget, teaching them to cook safely, everything that we take for granted,” said Tayla-Maree.
Tayla-Maree was shocked to learn that many young women at the refuge did not realise the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
After participating in lab research and writing a 5000-word paper on the sexual health of young women, Tayla-Maree became passionate about developing her science communication skills.
“In a science degree you’re told how to communicate with other scientists through journal articles,” she explained
“But how do you speak your science to the general public? How do you make it meaningful to them?”
Tayla-Maree recently completed her degree and plans to work in medical programming development and management, and potentially do further study. She said that her time with Coast Shelter was very worthwhile and that all students should embrace volunteering opportunities.
“Don’t be set on one idea… if you’re given an opportunity take it.
“There are so many ways to get a placement in a lab or to get professional work experience and this can count as credit points.”
With exciting initiatives including UTS BUiLD and UTS Global Exchange, UTS Science students can travel the world to pursue their passions. Science internships come in all shapes in sizes – you could find yourself volunteering at a National Park, assisting in a lab or interning at a bank.
To check out internship opportunities, visit: