Coast Explorer internships – no two days the same
Tom Hawkins, Coastal Development Officer at Canterbury City Council
19 November 2016
Here at Canterbury City Council, we want to get more people involved in our coastline. So, it was great to work with the Coast Explorer interns, giving them the chance to gain hands-on experience in a range of roles.
Managing 14½ miles of foreshore, no two days are the same. One day, I might be taking schoolchildren on tours of the coast, looking at different environmental features, the next I could find myself handling waste washed up onto the foreshore or dealing with a beached whale.
We tried to give the first group of Coast Explorer interns a good mix of activities, including environmental profiling, shellfish sampling, accompanying schoolchildren on educational trips, beach cleaning and working with our coastal engineering team.
It was good to see the interns working with schoolchildren, inspiring the next generation’s love for our fantastic coast and raising awareness of career opportunities in marine conservation. Even kids who live in our area don’t necessarily go to the beach with their families. I see promoting the coast as an important part of my role.
We’re pleased with the feedback from the interns, like Alexander who said: “I really enjoyed the work with Canterbury Council and Foreshore Services as it gave me a chance to gain some experience surveying and an insight into the commercial use of Geographical Information Services (GIS) for coastal management.”
We’ve also identified ways to make the programme work even better for next year’s interns. It can be challenging to plan a full timetable because we never quite know what the day will bring, but by speaking with interns early on about what they’re interested in, we can try to match them up with relevant teams. Some of this year’s intake wanted to gain experience in engineering, so they spent time with our coastal engineering team, which worked well.
It can be hard to get a job in marine conservation. Many of the people I studied with are now working in different sectors. One of the barriers for young people looking to work in the marine environment is that employers generally want experience, but you need a job or internship to get that experience. Many marine conservation students end up paying to gain experience, which isn’t ideal for them or the sector, as we want to develop a future workforce of the best talent from a range of backgrounds.
Canterbury City Council Foreshore Services is happy to support the Coast Explorer internship programme, which gives young people valuable marine experience for free. Together with our Coast Explorer partners, the P1 Marine Foundation, The Crown Estate and Vattenfall, we’re helping young people of all backgrounds gain work experience to pursue careers in the marine environment, so our future workforce comes from a wide pool of skilled people. We look forward to the programme going from strength to strength.