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Research Assistant
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I was unsure about whether I wanted a career in field research, and felt this would be the perfect way to try it out.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Career Connect

Application process

I attended a meeting at the university, where I received an application form to fill out. My application was accepted, and the organisation got in touch to help me with planning for the expedition.

Main responsibilities

I helped a team of ecologists to monitor the impacts of climate change and human activity on the Peruvian rainforest.

Typical day

Every day we went into the forest in a team made up of a scientist, several research assistants, and a local guide. We carried out surveys of the forest's wildlife, including birds, butterflies, fish, monkeys, bats, caiman and river dolphins. Often these surveys would just involve walking along a transect and recording the animals we saw, but in some cases (including our surveys of birds and fish), we had to handle the animals in order to take measurements.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

This was a unique chance to live and work in the Amazon rainforest. I was thrilled to contribute to the conservation of this stunning and fragile place.

Challenging aspects

I had to learn a lot of new practical research skills in a relatively short period of time.
The rainforest itself also presented plenty of its own challenges. It's not always easy to stay focused on your work while trying to watch out for snakes, spiders, bullet ants and mosquitoes!

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

As a biology student, I was able to directly apply some practical skills and knowledge directly from my course. Having a basic understanding of tropical ecology helped me to appreciate the significance of the work I was doing.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Absolutely. This placement showed me how enjoyable and fulfilling practical field work can be. I am also now very keen to work abroad.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

Going on placement abroad can seem like a lot of hassle - there's so much to organise! However, in my opinion it was definitely worth it. Start planning early, and you'll feel fully prepared by the time you arrive.

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Form completed: 10 Aug 2017

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