In the context of our commitment to capacity development the Institute operates and invests in an internship programme. Its key features are as follows:
- The overall aim is to contract five to ten interns on an annual basis
- Each internship is generally of one year duration but might be extended, particularly if the intern is studying for a higher degree. There can be no assumption of employment at the Institute beyond the period of internship.
- It is aimed at young professionals, particularly but not exclusively those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Ideally the intern should be at least in the second year of masters’ level study. The minimum qualification for an intern is an appropriate honours degree and it is preferred that the intern is committed to further study.
- Each intern is mentored by one or more of the INR’s senior staff and is deployed to conduct professional activities on the Institute’s various projects.
- Tasks and activities allocated to interns are planned to develop their skill and capacity rather than simply to contribute to the completion of projects.
- Each intern is provided with regular feedback on his or her performance and formal reviews take place on a quarterly basis. There is also a formal close-out review.
- The Institute will also identify specific training for each intern on a case by case basis and provide support to secure this training.
- The intern is an INR staff member but does not receive retirement or health benefits.
- There is flexibility around full-time and part-time internships and this is geared to the needs of the intern and the INR.
- Remuneration levels are flexible and largely dependent on whether the intern is part-time or full-time. They range from R 80 000 to R 120 000 per annum (R 6 500 to R 10 000 per month).
Feedback from our 2017 Interns
Lauren joined the INR in February 2017, after completing her Master’s degree in Economics. Her Master’s thesis was a cost-benefit analysis of a marine protected area. Lauren did her undergraduate in Economics and Environmental Management and Geography at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This allowed for the combination of the three disciplines.
During her time at the INR, Lauren worked on a range of projects. These included a climate change adaptation related to payment for ecosystem services project in Lesotho, a conservation based enterprise project based in Limpopo, an agro-forestry cost-benefit analysis in KwaZulu-Natal and a tourism and inland water project based in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. These projects allowed Lauren to have a deeper insight into the practical uses of economics in environmental management and conservation as well as learn more about the social and environmental contributors to these projects.
The INR’s experienced and friendly staff created an environment conducive of learning skills both related to the practical project work, as well as skills in the administration of the business and projects. The INR also provided many opportunities to travel to interesting places for projects and attend workshops and conferences on topics which were relevant to Lauren’s field. Lauren is grateful to all of the staff at the INR for their kindness and willingness to help her learn, with special thanks to her mentors Fonda and Michelle.
I joined the INR in July 2015, a few months into my MSc degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. My Masters research looked at the wetlands in the Baynespruit catchment, in Pietermaritzburg, to determine if selected case study wetlands could be rehabilitated to improve water quality of the Baynespruit River. The internship opportunity came at the perfect time as my Masters research had a wetland services and rehabilitation focus and I came on to the INR Ecosystems team to work on a wetlands project. I initially worked on the guidelines for the determination of buffer zones which was great exposure to the process of developing new methods and planning national training and development workshops.
Whilst working on research projects, I was also involved with more consultancy type projects and wetland assessments which I enjoyed. The time spent under my mentor learning how to conduct wetland assessments, writing reports and proposals was invaluable in helping advance my career as well as my studies.
During the internship programme I was afforded many opportunities which increased my skill set such as becoming SASS5 accredited, improving my GIS skills, attending and presenting my MSc research at the Society of South African Geographers Students Conference 2016 at Stellenbosch University and the National Wetland Indaba 2016.
I would like to thank the INR for the opportunity of the extended internship programme. The structure of the internship programme is great for promoting capacity development and allows students with minimal experience to gain exposure and experience in their fields of interest. I would also like to particularly thank Ian Bredin for his mentorship and the rest of the Ecosystems team who were always eager to teach and share their knowledge. You all contributed to creating a great working and learning environment.
In November 2015, Patrick began his internship at the Institute of Natural Resources. At the time he was in the final stages of his MSc in Environmental Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Patrick was initially tasked with applying the urban hydrosocial transition model to Durban, in a more research-focused internship. This task was directly linked with the International Water Security Network, under the guidance of Professor Chad Staddon of the University of the West of England and Duncan Hay (INR – Executive Director). This research project eventually became the theoretical basis of Patrick’s PhD, which he started in mid-2016.
Another project which he was drawn into was the Surface Water Quality Monitoring Programme at Dube Tradeport – under the mentorship of Leo Quayle. Patrick notes “I enjoyed being part of this project, which involved on-site water quality sampling, and thereafter water quality reporting from the analysis of laboratory results. This has greatly enhanced my knowledge and understanding of water quality monitoring”.
Over the period of his internship, Patrick has come to realise that capacity development of young staff is high on the agenda at the INR. He states “Throughout my internship, I have been given time off to attend a number of workshops and conferences – both local and international – which has been extremely beneficial for my professional development. In addition, I have always felt that the staff of the INR are friendly and approachable, from the Executive Director, to senior scientists, office staff and fellow interns. Overall it has been a great experience working at the INR.”
I joined the INR while I was still busy with my MSc degree in agriculture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I completed my degree whilst working at INR. My MSc dissertation looked at water use efficiency of maize and legumes in an intercropping system.
When I started at INR, I had minimal experience in rural development. My internship has provided me the opportunity to be involved in participatory research, sustainable rural development and developing farm plans. Coming straight from the university theoretical background, these were all new concepts to me. Joining the INR team has been a great experience for me. I was exposed to different disciplines which gave me valuable skills.
I am grateful to my mentors Brigid Letty and Jon McCosh for the mentorship and experience they provided to me. To team Agriculture: Thank you for making it an exciting and wonderful experience for me.
Feedback from our 2016 Interns
Having obtained a BSc. Honours degree in Hydrology from University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, I joined the INR while busy with my Masters in Bioresource Systems (Agricultural engineering). My thesis explored the development of models for sustainable operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of small-scale water infrastructure, with a case study involving rural communities of Makhudutamaga Local Municipality in the Limpopo Province.
Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods were unfamiliar subjects to me however, working as an intern under this theme at INR allowed me not only to learn to work under pressure but also sharpened my research skills. Working on unfamiliar projects at INR made me realise that my qualification is like a driver’s license and “I can drive any make of vehicle with it”. My 12 month (July 2015 – June 2016) internship was an interesting one and I worked on a Water Research Commission-funded project that focused on the water use of agroforestry systems, as well as being involved in a range of other projects.
The INR has been a good environment for both my professional and personal development. I would like to thank the INR professional scientists Brigid Letty and Jon McCosh who provided great mentorship, and made my internship a fun and stimulating experience.
Samiksha began her internship at the Institute of Natural Resources (INR) in January 2016. During her internship she learned a number of different skills through working on a wide range of projects from environmental management projects, Water use license applications, water quality and biomonitoring to analysis of household surveys. Samiksha completed her MSc Environmental Science degree while working at the INR. Her masters looked at the role periphyton played as an indicator of water quality taking into account its relationship with nutrient and flow regimes and macro-invertebrates in a river system. The INR gave Samiksha the opportunity to attend a number of conferences at which she presented her master research.
During her internship the skills acquired where learned in a constructive, supportive and friendly environment. Her time at the INR during her internship was one of personal growth and learning. The emphasis placed by the INR on youth development and the development of early careers of young graduates is the reason the internship programme at the INR is highly valuable and successful.
Feedback from our 2015 Interns
Perushan began his internship at the Institute of Natural Resources (INR) in September 2015. During his internship he gained numerous skills through working on a wide range of projects, ranging from climate vulnerability projects, water related risk projects, land degradation mapping projects and several other spatially based projects. Perushan completed his MSc in Environmental Science in 2015 and his masters research involved using remote sensing for varietal discrimination and yield prediction of the common dry bean.
During his internship at the INR Perushan has worked closely with several senior scientists, and gained insight into practical project based work. Exposure to a wide variety of projects has afforded him the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods of applied research. His time spent at the INR encouraged learning and promoted self-development. The practical skills gained from his time as an intern were both valuable and provided a strong foundation for future endeavours.
Xolile Ngubo’s passion for the environment was established when she was still in high school. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree majoring in geography and economics in 2011. She then completed her honours degree in geography and environmental management in 2012.
Through her internship she has assisted with a variety of projects which required research, project management, and technical reporting support. The projects focused on areas including but not exclusive to; environmental planning, assessment, compliance, and reporting. She has also been involved in the public participation process within an EIA.
“I am most grateful to my mentor Mr David Cox as his guidance has increased my knowledge and enhanced my confidence in my career.” Being part of the INR team has been a wonderful experience for my career and personal growth. I have enjoyed the time that I have spent with the INR team. Working at INR has had a positive impact on my career as it has opened a new platform to grow as I move forward to my new position at Rand Water.
Feedback from our 2014 Interns
Hailing from the KZN Midlands, Manqoba enrolled at UKZN in 2008 and last year, submitted his MSc in ecology. Quietly confident of being awarded his Masters, Manqoba’s chosen field of study resonated well with the INR and its array of projects.
His thesis investigated aspects of fruit digestion by selected African fruit-eating birds with obvious relevance to the fruit-farming industry.
His relationship with the INR dates back to a studentship in 2012 and 2013 that was upgraded into a full internship last year.
His internship was a busy one, from working on a Water Research Council project analysing the interphase between aquatic protection and development, to investigating the impact of the Spring Grove Dam on biodiversity and working with rural communities in the Mbongwane area, near Eshowe, on utilising wetlands sustainably.
The year passed in a whirl of activity and Manqoba is deeply appreciative of the INR’s role in his development.
“The single biggest impact was working with professional scientists David Cox and Ian Bredin whose knowledge and expertise benefitted me enormously,” he says.
“I’m especially grateful for the GIS skills I’d learnt,” he says, “that experience you can’t buy.”
Kabir considered a career choice in the study of the environment in his final year at Drakensberg Secondary in Estcourt and it developed into a full-blown passion after enrolling at UKZN.
Focussing on environmental management, Kabir submitted his PhD dissertation on the remote sensing of alien plants in commercial plantations.
His internship at the INR last year proved to be a valuable counterpoint and exposed him to both disparate and related aspects of his study.
These include a mapping project in Lesotho that helped to develop a tool to anticipate and mitigate the impact of climate change, a mountain forest mapping exercise, a rainwater harvesting initiative, and an ecosystem goods and services investigation.
Kabir is deeply appreciative of his time with the INR and believes the experience prepared him for the next stage of his career – joining the Institute of Commercial Forestry Research as a research scientist.
“The work experience has been absolutely invaluable, maybe because it’s one of the best institutions where theory and practice meets,” he says.
“I’ve learnt so much from the professional scientists I worked with – John McCosh, Leo Quayle and Kate Pringle.”
Nokulunga followed an unconventional route to the INR after finishing school at St Francis College in Marianhill. Keen to explore opportunities in agriculture, she enrolled at the Cedara Agricultural College to pursue a diploma. But she soon converted to a BAgric degree that paved the way for an honours degree at UKZN.
Her internship at the INR started in March last year in what was a seminal experience that, in her words, “accelerated my personal development and growth” and set her on course for a full scholarship towards a MSc at the University of Zululand.
Her principal involvement as an intern was with a Water Research Council project in the Eastern Cape to investigate water retention and storage in the cultivation of maize.
Other projects included a protein-block feed regime for cattle in the Matatiele area, a socio-economic investigation into small grower development in conjunction with Tongaat Hulett, and a desktop study on the sustainable use of a wetland in the Mbongwane area, near Eshowe.
Nokulunga was offered a position at the INR but the prospect of deepening her knowledge in the rapidly evolving science of food security could not be passed up.
“I’ll be back,” she says, “it will be time for me to give back to the organisation that has helped me immeasurably.”