How to Intern at Elephants and Bees

Field Blog by International Interns, Tara Berthold, Emilia Malmstrom and Louise Warden 

Sweat covered, red faced, backpack wearing, clinging to our water bottles with one hand and a clipboard in the other. Yeah, that’s us, the interns. We might not always look the prettiest, but rest assured we’re hard at work. For those wondering what it’s like as an intern I have provided some hard and fast rules for you to follow.

Interns Emilia, Tara, Louise and Jonathan on fieldwork. Photo: Emilia Malmstrom

1. Embrace the bugs, bees and everything in-between. It’s easier if you just accept them now. There will be spiders in your tent. There will be frogs in your boots. There will be a gecko watching you as you pee. Accept their intimate presence in your life for the extent of your stay and move on.

2. Most of us look like we just ran a marathon and then wrestled in the red dirt with a lion. Sometimes we smell like it too. Embrace the look and work it with pride! But seriously don’t worry we do shower.

3. Joseph, the camp’s cook, is an absolute angel. Worship the ground he walks on. Say thank you three times a day and then another just to make sure. Without him we would set the place on fire, wither away and perish. He left us for the Christmas holidays and chaos shortly ensued. Dishes pilled high by the sink (don’t tell Ewan), water leaking over the kitchen floor to the size of a small lake and interns with parents who clearly never taught them to cook were left in charge of breakfast, lunch and dinner!

4. The food will be different then you are probably used to. Enjoy the change and eat up, being an intern can be physically challenging, you need the calories, so get to licking the plate.

5. All interns get up at 7:15am for breakfast to get started with work for the day, usually going out to the farms for beehive monitoring or crop raiding assessments. Be sure to wake up on time or you might be left behind when the car leaves for the field at 10am. Yes, that was sarcasm. Kenya works on its own time, don’t try and rush it, it wont work. Relax, take a breath and learn patience. All good things come to those who wait.

6. Sunday is a very sacred day to interns. Its our day off. There is only one place you need to know about. Voi Wildlife Lodge. It’s an oasis, a place where dreams come true, a place where you have to choose which pool you want to spend wasting away beside, or you could just go to all three. The toilets flush, the shower water comes from a showerhead and most importantly, it overlooks Tsavo East National Park. You are very likely to see some elephants come by for a swim as you sip on a cooled mango juice.

7. One of the most important jobs as an intern is providing love and affection to our beloved camp dogs. Winky, Socks, Tsavo and begrudgingly Junior. Each with their own quirky personality, to read up on the most important individuals in camp please refer to the blog post written by Louise Warden.

8. The last tidbit of being an intern. Make every moment count. Learn everything that you can. Cherish the lifelong friends you make. Yes, sometimes it might get hard, and you just accidently swallowed a toilet fly and want to just cry, but remember, you will look back on those times especially and laugh so just keep going, because it’s worth it.



The views, opinions and position expressed in this article belong solely to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the policy and position of Save the Elephants

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