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Volunteers' Stories


Laura Greaves          


Environmental Conservation Work Experience Internship, Sustainable Coastlines, in Auckland, New Zealand


What experience do you feel you are gaining?
I am gaining experience with environmental waste audits following clean-up events, lots of confidence-building as a large part of my internship is speaking to groups/individuals both to promote and explain the work done by the charity and as a leader/coordinator during events, meeting new people and liaising over the phone on a daily basis, data input etc. 

Also I am in the organization-stage of an independent project to collect real-time oceanic pollution data for analysis and evaluation. It is eye opening to work within a charity where the staff members are so dedicated with both their time and money; it is a very refreshing working environment.  

 What is the best thing about your placement so far?
The best part of my placement so far was leading a team of 26 young school children and around 8 adult volunteers and teachers throughout a clean-up event on Rangitoto Island. I coordinated taking the ferry, debriefed teachers, and made sure we had all the equipment and safety gear that was then implemented properly. I ensured they all understood the safety brief I presented before we began.

It was a very successful and rewarding day – it required a high level of organisation, resourcefulness and initiative while thinking on my feet.  

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else?
I would definitely recommend this placement to others, but do not expect a traditional internship with a company! However that is one of the things I really enjoy about it. It is unpredictable as what I am doing day to day varies both in location and nature! The people are fantastic and volunteering for a charity is very rewarding. The team is very accommodating – if you want to take time off to travel for example they would be fully in support of this.

What type of person do you think this placement would suit?
It is key in this placement to be native English speaking or to have a very high standard of fluent English. This is because such a large proportion of my time is spent talking/promoting/explaining etc. and this is most useful to the team.

Working with this charity would suit someone who is relaxed, approachable and confident, not afraid to get their hands (and clothes!) dirty! Enthusiastic to get stuck in and has to be able to act on initiative. Also be prepared for random working hours!

What, if any, improvements could be made to the placement?
No improvements could be made to this placement!
The team is very welcoming and appreciates all the help. Sam Judd is very keen to offer guidance and support with independent work and always wants it to be as beneficial to me as possible. Allowing me to take my ideas to him or suggesting project ideas he thinks I will enjoy.

Was there anything that you weren’t told before your departure that you think future volunteers should know?

Can you describe a typical day? (e.g Start time, morning duties, lunch hours, afternoon duties, any other duties…)
This is quite difficult as it can vary so much! I am here during the summer months, which means the charity is very busy with events. One day I can be in the office from 9am answering the phone and working on my laptop, the next day I could be going on a mission to visit associates or running errands.

Over the events it is very busy – there is a lot to organise and it can mean late nights setting up and early starts! Or, like the previous weekend I was away with work and took a couple of days off in the week, it can be quite unpredictable.

I relish the variety though and I have the opportunity to visit many places for free! I assume for an intern during the winter the experience might be quite different as not as many events are scheduled, possibly more office time and more time spent on independent research.

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