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Career news: Growing our own timber

WWF South Africa’s Graduate Internship Programme bade farewell to environmental interns at a special valedictory event in Cape Town.

WWF’s Graduate Internships provide a practical and paid bridging experience for new graduates to gain valuable experience and workplace-based training, and connect into professional networks to establish their careers for the environment.
 
Every two years, WWF recruits a new cohort of Honours and Masters graduates into a structured and mentored 12-month internship programme. In addressing skills in high demand, internship positions range from traditional green occupations, like park ranger and ecologist, to emerging areas of specialisation such as the economics, engineering and architecture.
 
The most recent cohort of 50 participants in the programme were selected from among 1079 applications from 17 universities, bringing with them a wide range of skills from conservation and agricultural science to chemical engineering. Mirroring the post-graduate enrolment trends at universities, 73% are women and 81% are black South Africans. For the first time, the programme also placed two interns from neighbouring Zimbabwe.
 
Among the many organisations to host the interns include provincial conservation agencies, university-based research institutions and fishing companies. The programme also enjoys the long-standing support of host organisations like Wildlands Conservation Trust, the Nature’s Valley Trust and the IUCN’s TRAFFIC. Among the funders are WWF Nedbank GreenTrust (since 2013), Barloworld and affiliates of the South African Deep Sea Trawling Industry.
 
Said Dr Glenda Raven, Senior Manager: Environmental Leaders Programme, WWF-SA: “The support of these funders, our host employers and mentors adds significant value to this programme and enables us to achieve the 91% success in these interns transitioning into the workplace where their skills are most effectively deployed.”
 
The good news is that for many interns this was indeed the first step towards a successful career in the environmental sector, with six already in full-time employment (three with their host organisations), four pursuing further studies and two being awarded PhDs scholarships during the course of their internships.
 
Dr Raven added: “We wish the rest of our interns well as they explore the job market, confident that they will soon transition into formal employment. Our trend analysis amongst previous cohorts shows that 82% of interns find work within three months of concluding the internship and a further 15% within six months.”
 
The next intake of interns is in April 2021. Recruitment details will be advertised on the WWF website from August 2020.
 

The valedictory for the graduate interns of 2019 which took place in Cape Town.

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