Coast Explorer internships – insights and experience
Harriet Nicholls, Policy & Commercial Analyst at The Crown Estate
04 January 2017
Here at The Crown Estate, we feel passionately about getting young people into employment and making sure that the marine sector has the best people and minds working in it. That’s why we partnered with marine tenant Swedish energy firm Vattenfall, Canterbury City Council and P1 Marine Foundation to launch the Coast Explorer internship programme.
This programme gives young people valuable experience to get started in the marine sector, working with people across our business and with Vattenfall, Canterbury City Council and P1 Marine Foundation.
Intense competition for jobs in the marine sector means that, without experience, young people’s CVs don’t even get looked at. Yet, there are high calibre marine graduates coming through and we need to nurture this talent for the sustainable future of the sector. Our marine tenants need new ideas, insights and information to make the most of the changing opportunities, technologies and targets they face.
When we interviewed applicants for the Coast Explorer internships, we were so impressed by the standard of applicants that, rather than recruiting four interns as planned, we selected six – three students part-way through their degree courses and three graduates who already had some experience.
Before the interns joined us, we spoke with our Energy, Minerals and Infrastructure (EMI) team about any small-scale research they needed. We got loads of requests and chose six projects for the interns to complete towards the end of the programme.
The interns showed fantastic commitment to their research projects, all deemed important by the business. They did a great job of grasping some fairly specialist topics, looking at issues from a different perspective and questioning the way things are done. We were really impressed by their work and the dedication they showed.
When intern Niamh presented her findings, she asked why all offshore infrastructure is removed after a project ends, when some of it could be left to provide marine habitats that bring ecological benefit – a rigs-to-reef approach. My colleague Adrian Fox described Niamh’s report as “a pleasure to read and of a high standard”.
Rhiannon questioned why dredged sediment is disposed of at sea, when it has potential to be re-used to restore, create or protect coastline and habitats. Managing agent Nicola Clay said that this research “will provide a useful base for us to build upon”.
Victoria explored biodiversity features that could be added to offshore windfarms to encourage underwater ecosystems. She went on to complete a further internship with our Geographical Information Services (GIS) team. Go to Victoria’s blog below.
It was great to hear from the interns how much they got out of the programme, organised by P1 Marine Foundation. They seemed to really value the experience and chance to enhance their CVs, adding field work and office-based activities with The Crown Estate, Vattenfall and Canterbury City Council. On a more personal level, the interns also developed their communication skills and gained insights into different marine areas. The research project proved a highlight for several of them, along with being made to feel like full-time employees, welcomed and supported by colleagues.
Our first interns were a great group of young people and we enjoyed having them on our team. I think they really opened some eyes about how difficult it is for anyone looking to get into the marine sector now. It’s often only people who can afford to take on unpaid work or even pay for work who gain the experience needed to enter the sector. That’s why we made sure that the Coast Explorer internship programme covered expenses and ran flexibly, so interns could fit it around other roles. I hope more and more companies look to run similar programmes – for the sustainable future of the sector.
Drawing on the interns’ feedback, we’re already looking at how we could make the 2017 programme even better, potentially developing more personalised schedules for interns where possible, staggering their time in the office and giving them a bit more time for their research projects. I would definitely encourage young people interested in careers in the marine sector to apply for the programme – it’ll give you great insights and experience across a wide range of activities.
A massive thank you to all involved in Coast Explorer 2016. We look forward to hearing about how our first interns progress – and to welcoming our second cohort this year!