Morganna Davies is a graduate with a Masters of Science in the field of Climate Change from the renowned Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex which is ranked #1 globally for development studies. Here she reflects on a paid internship with Urban Habitats.
This internship was made possible through funding from the Welsh Government and Swansea University with a focus on supporting graduates to gain vital employment experience and skills, who would otherwise face barriers in doing so. In line with Urban Habitats’ commitment to creating good work in local places the internship was paid above the level of the Real Living Wage.
Reflections on my internship
Out of Academia and into the world of work. For many COVID-19 graduates this was a daunting prospect, especially during a slow recovery from a global pandemic and now entering an even more competitive job market. Undertaking my masters during COVID-19 and starting to think more about the long-term prospects, allowed me time to think firstly, about what is the field that I wish to pursue and secondly, how to go about gaining the experience and necessary skills within the academic field I have studied in.
The opportunity to carry out my paid internship with Urban Habitats came at a time where finding meaningful work experience seemed nigh-on-impossible, it seemed like every job opportunity required already having at least 2-years experience prior and that was for unpaid positions! This role provided me with a platform to continue my development and helped to reflect on my career aspirations whilst having a stable income during unstable times.
Pathway to the future
Whilst at Urban Habitats I really felt like I was able to contribute to delivering its wider vision across a wide range of activities both within Wales with organisations like Public Health Wales and more widely such as attending the National Traditional Ecological Knowledge Summit organised by the TEK Club at Oregon State University which even included a morning briefing at the White House about how Indigenous and Traditional Ecological Knowledge are being given increased priority in federal decision making.
A central part of Urban Habitats ethos is that of co-learning. As a micro-business the internship has given Urban Habitats an opportunity to put this into practice within a team and develop as a learning organisation. From the outset, we co-created my learning goals, which provided a clear direction of development. This was a vital framework to allow me to track and review my progress.
Establishing my goals early on allowed strategic thinking to ensure my learning goals were diverse and provided clear positive steps to take. My learning goals were clustered as: further develop use of research methods in practice, sharing knowledge and impact with research, business development, personal professional development, and discovering potential career paths.
Practice values are central to Urban Habitats’ ways of working and are to respond to: reducing health inequalities, population health, planetary health and the climate emergency, creating health with communities, and being evidence informed in all work we do. These values from my experience are integral to Urban Habitats ethos and very much supported an inclusive and diverse learning environment.
I have been fortunate to be involved first hand in a variety of work, including around the topic of climate change and climate adaptation with Public Health Wales; using Health Impact Assessment (HIA) methods, specifically developing a population profile at a country level for Wales; attendance at international summits such as the Skoll World Forum and the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Conference allowing me to learn from the latest thinking and innovative actions taking place across the globe and to represent Urban Habitats at these events; development of in house R&D in the form of a project for Urban Habitats in development of the use of GIS in practice; and wider business and project activities.
The chance to represent Urban Habitats at international summits provided invaluable professional development and learning, whilst gaining experience in marketing via social media and involvement in interesting and engaging conversations on a global stage. The connections I have made have been very beneficial, allowing me to broaden my career options and gain an understanding of the range of possibilities that are available. I have a new understanding of what is required to have a meaningful career. I am keen to explore future areas of work in healthy place making, climate adaptation, sustainability consultancy, planetary health and well-being.
Visions for the future
My career aspirations are to work within a field that contributes to improving environmental and human health, whilst tackling the issues of and adapting to climate change. Urban Habitats founder Mark Drane is truly a remarkable individual, who is not only mindful of how Urban Habitats grows as a learning institution, but also cares for the welfare and personal development of team members. This is exemplified within the values and practices that underpin the work carried out by Urban Habitats.
As a new graduate heading into a slowly recovering job market, I could not have wished for a better place to continue my professional development. Urban Habitats allowed me the opportunity to take ownership over my work and learning, whilst providing a flexible working environment. My overall learning experience and well-being was considered throughout, tailoring the internship to ensure I gained the most out of my time with the company. I have gained confidence in my ability to ensure that I balance my personal life and prioritise my wellbeing alongside having a successful career. My time with Urban Habitats has provided a fantastic working environment to expand my skills and attain vital experience in professional consultancy work, which I will always be extremely grateful for.
Get in touch
I am actively seeking future work opportunities and can be contacted via LinkedIn. Please get in contact for a conversation about future openings.