I’m Patrick, a 19-year-old student having just finished a 2-month ecology internship with MKA Ecology.

I started a BSc Environmental Sciences degree in September 2019 at the University of East Anglia, and on completion of my first year I began my placement here.

Growing up I’d always been interested in nature and had developed reasonable field skills, but my only work experience was a temporary supermarket job. Therefore when I had the opportunity to undertake an ecology internship with MKA I jumped at the chance and thankfully they took me on. It was easy to settle in, everyone in the team was very friendly, welcoming and incredibly knowledgeable. The fieldwork began straight away with a bat survey on my first evening in the job – in a derelict RAF base and I loved it! I did 20 bat surveys in 2 months and learnt so much about this amazing species group, encountering 7 species, whilst still having plenty to see and learn about in the future.

Then there was a BioBlitz; a count of the plants, moths, butterflies and birds at a site in Abington which has had its ecological value improved by MKA as a project. This involved my first experience of moth trapping and improving my knowledge of moths and plants was a lot of fun. I was also fortunate to be able to go along and help with a breeding bird survey and a preliminary bat roost assessment; it was great to get experience of various types of fieldwork.

As well as the survey work, I spent time in the main office writing:

  • 15 fee proposals,
  • 2 draft preliminary ecological appraisal reports,
  • a preliminary roost assessment report,
  • a scheme of ecological enhancement measures, and
  • the chance to get familiar with GIS (geographic information system) for the report writing.

Whilst the fieldwork was crucial for improving my knowledge of the plants and animals themselves, the office experience was great for learning about professionalism, the working environment and interacting with clients.

I’ve learnt a lot at uni but this was a very different experience; being involved in real-world projects and interacting with clients, learning about the legislation behind development and the relations ecologists have with clients, planners and councils gave me a different outlook on ecology to what I’ve gained from my degree. I now know I definitely want my future career to be ecology related, as it’s been great having a job that links in with one of my passions from growing up.

Thanks to this ecology internship placement I think I’m now in a much better place to make this a reality.

So to finish off, thank you to everyone at MKA for giving me such a fantastic experience. And to any students with interests in nature, I’d 100% recommend looking for summer internships such as this – at any stage in any degree, as it’s been an incredibly rewarding way to spend a summer!

If you are interested in applying for an internship at MKA Ecology please contact us – we’d love to hear from you.