Although my time in Cape Town has heart-breakingly ended, my employment at TRAFFIC has not. The policy proposal took far longer than I had imagined, although my boss thinks everything is coming together faster than he assumed. Markus wants me to continue my writing and data analytics from the States in order to be a co-author and I happily agreed to continue my work. I have furthered my passion for wildlife conservation and cannot wait to keep working from home. Markus is also positive that my time in South Africa is not over–we discussed TRAFFIC’s lack of open positions but he has many connections with other NGOs in the region that cater more to my interests (ivory trade). He also is in constant contact with NGOs from the States and has agreed to put me in contact with people who would love for me to join their team when I am ready.
If I were to give myself two pieces of advice before starting my internship, the first would deal with brushing up on my Microsoft Office skills. My first week lacked confidence for a successful internship as I did not know how to use various Excel functions for trade data analyses. I learned quickly, however, if left me frazzled the first few days and could have been avoided if I had brushed up on the application. My second piece of advice would be to write more things down. During “tea time,” my coworkers and I had such interesting conversations about wildlife trade that I wish I had written down. So much of what we discussed would be useful for future classes and to be able to access this information would be so helpful.
Leaving Cape Town will be one of the hardest things I have yet to do. My colleagues and boss have become great friends of mine. It feels amazing to be apart of an organization that values my thoughts and challenges me to complete tasks senior associates are doing. Not only have my research skills been enhanced, but my critical thinking and data analytics are at an all time high. I would never have thought I would enjoy working with figures but I was constantly asking Markus for more analyses to do. I grew as an individual and as an employee and will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given. My future is so much clearer now and I don’t think I want to do anything else next year other than working with illegal wildlife trade.