SANBI interns 2018/19

On Friday the 1st March 2018, SANBI’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden hosted its 2nd Annual Intern Presentation day for the 2018/2019 interns. The morning was filled with exciting presentations, with nine interns sharing their experience working at SANBI, their job descriptions and their highlights during the internship period. For most graduates, an internship programme is their first formal introduction to the world of work, and as such, it impacts significantly on shaping their careers in the future.

Presentations shared by interns proved that they learn a lot in their internship year; it’s not about fetching coffee, organising folders and meetings or being a personal assistant, as many people might think! Pursuing an internship assists in developing awareness of strengths, values and interests that will enable one to better align one’s personal and professional direction. Presentations were very insightful and also showed that SANBI staff (mentors) are talented people who know exactly how to nurture and train, to get the best out of interns and sharpen their skills.

Stephni van der Merwe NBA/VEGMAP intern said “I am privileged to have been placed in the biodiversity research side of SANBI and it has fuelled my love for understanding our amazing biodiversity (even to do my PhD on this topic) and its often unnoticed benefits to society. The experience I have gained and opportunities we have had during this time are unrivalled. I have even travelled all over the country.”

Joti Daya, a Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) intern who now wants to pursue her Master’s degree on the African Wild Dog and the impact of captivity on their behaviour pattern and pack dynamics, said “One of my biggest highlights as a CREW intern was rediscovering one of the lost plants on 23 November 2018; Aspalathus borboniifolia a Table Mountain endemic. This plant was long overlooked and was first found in 1932 and then collected in 1956 when this was the last time this plant was seen”. Even though the Masters will take Joti in a different direction she is keen to continue volunteering for CREW.


Joti Daya CREW intern


Aspalathus borboniifolia, the species that Joti rediscovered

The internship indeed has helped interns establish their career identity, and it has helped them to capitalise on their personal strengths and interests.  Professor John Donaldson, Chief Director of the Biodiversity Research, Assessment and Monitoring Division at SANBI, closed the session and said “it is wonderful and inspiring to listen to the interns’ journeys and to see how much they have taken out of the SANBI internship programme”.

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