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Research internships


Are you in the process of completing a research paper, thesis or dissertation? Our research internships will guide you in your data collection in the field. And thanks to GVI’s involvement in global conservation and sustainable development, you’ll be able to supplement your research with insights from existing datasets that were 20 years in the making.

So, what are research internships? A research internship is an internship that supports the partial fulfillment of your research thesis, dissertation or other academic or independent research paper. The main focus of a research internship is to support you in collecting and/or analysing the data that you’ll use to write up your paper. Research internships also help you to prepare for your future career in the industry by giving you experience with field research methodologies. 

So, what if you already have a specific research topic in mind, or you’re well into your dissertation and you’re looking to complete the practical component of your research on a research internship? Our award-winning research internships offer a range of research topics to choose from that could fit into your existing research. Your enrolment manager will provide you with information on all the research opportunities available to you. 

Why should you join a research internship?

A research internship allows you to meet your university or independant research requirements in a supportive and structured environment. With over 20 years of experience in field research, GVI will support you throughout the process, and connect you to an appropriate topic of research and a remote research internship supervisor. And we have hundreds of topics for you to choose from.

Research internships offer unique research opportunities in locations that are often otherwise challenging to access. For example, in Jalova, Costa Rica, previous interns have collected data on butterflies and amphibians in the protected Tortuguero National Park. And if you do a research internship in this location, you’ll be able to make use of existing databases. The benefit of this setup is two-fold. 

Having access to existing research means that you don’t have to go out and collect the same data for your dissertation. This will save you time, strengthen your findings and give you the opportunity to hone in on other areas of your research. Using existing databases also contributes to the sustainability of resources used on the project. And, any new research you conduct during your research internship will be added to our databases, contribute to future students’ work on the project, and towards scientific conservation research more broadly.

On our research internships, you’ll also get to collaborate with other researchers across our international locations. This also includes the chance to connect with students from universities around the world whose research interests and goals are similar to yours. You’ll also work alongside our qualified on-the-ground staff members who are experts in their field.

Along with the opportunity to expand your professional network, you’ll make lifelong international friendships, receive and offer support to fellow students on our international research internships and learn directly from professionals in the industry. 

And the benefits of a research internship don’t end after your program, it’ll also open doors to possible jobs in the industry once you complete your studies. All of our projects involve collaborative work with partner organisations, such as the Coastal Jaguar Conservation based in the Caribbean of Costa Rica, or the Endangered Wildlife Trust based in Africa. This unique industry exposure can put you on the map with reputable organisations.

GVI is an award-winning, international volunteer and internship organisation recognised by Go Abroad and Go Overseas. Some awards we’ve won include the Go Abroad Top Rated Intern Abroad Program award and the Go Overseas Value, Safety and Support award.

What do GVI’s research internships have to offer? 

Meet your academic requirements

Research internships make it easy to collect the data you need to complete your thesis, dissertation or research paper. Thanks to our academic support staff, expert local staff and remote internship supervisors, you’ll be supported all the way through your research internship: before, during and after your program. 

GVI has been working in the conservation and sustainable development space for over twenty years. We have decades of expertise in facilitating research expeditions, as well as hundreds of programs and research topics for you to choose from. And our enrolment staff are on hand to make sure you select the perfect topic to match your research goals and academic requirements. 

Once you’ve been matched with your topic and program, our support and academic support staff will make sure you have everything you need until you’ve wrapped up your data collection and are ready to get started writing up your thesis. 

Remote research internship supervisor

GVI’s research internships are conducted outside of a traditional university setting. Our in-field research-based internships involve hands-on practical work. Although you probably already have a university supervisor overseeing your thesis work, you’ll need support on the program and an understanding of how your thesis research fits into the research internship program that you join. 

So, if you’re looking to complete your dissertation abroad, you can rest assured that we’ve got you covered. When you join one of our research internships, you’ll be paired with a remote research internship supervisor. Your remote research internship supervisor will guide you on your research, methodology and data collection.

If you’re doing conservation research on, say, predator kill preferences in a South African reserve, you might study the leopard slinking across the safari plains of Limpopo hunting for its prey, the slender antelope. 

On a wildlife conservation internship like this one, you might be paired with a remote research internship supervisor with research experience in statistics; spatial analysis; spreadsheet modelling; satellite image processing; remote sensing; as well as using geographic information systems like ArcGIS, IDRISI, QGIS. Your remote internship supervisor will also guide you on how to use other forms of research methodologies like interviews, surveys and data analysis.

Your remote research internship supervisor will have sample research topics and data sets ready for you. And, if you’re worried about whether or not your research will fit into one of our programs, your remote research internship supervisor will be able to pre-approve your research topic during your enrolment process with us and even suggest alternative topics or locations to carry out your internship.

Add to your academic qualifications

When you join one of GVI’s international research internships you’ll boost your academic and professional development with our pre-program, online leadership course and a specialisation course in wildlife conservation, marine conservation or community development. 

And, you can add to your academic qualifications even further by completing GVI’s post-program Careers in Sustainable Development online course. All of our online courses are accredited by the University of Richmond and are offered at no extra cost to your standard program fees. 

The best part is that once you’ve successfully completed your research internship, you’ll have four weeks to complete your post-program online course. And, if you successfully complete the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion to add to your resume. 

Remote career mentor

GVI’s research internships have a lot to offer, but how do you prepare for your future once you’ve completed your internship? GVI will assign a remote career mentor to you, and you’ll have access to two online mentor sessions. 

Your career mentor will assist you with preparing for your future career by:

  • giving you feedback on your CV
  • assisting you in communicating your GVI experience on LinkedIn and your CV
  • helping you to practise for interviews
  • assisting you in mapping out your career goals
  • providing advice on job searching
  • giving you general career advice.

So, after you’ve completed your research internship, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to begin a successful career in the industry.

Receive a professional reference

With a completed research internship and your future career plan under your belt, all you’ll need is one more boost to add to your resume. 

Your remote research internship supervisor will give you a professional reference to impress your future employers. This reference will highlight what you’ve learnt on the program and outline the skills you’ve developed during your internship. They will also add a summary of this reference to your LinkedIn profile, along with relevant skills endorsements.

Job guarantee

Job hunting has never been this easy. GVI’s research internships offer all qualifying interns a job guarantee in the sustainable development industry within 18 months of successfully completing a 6 month program.  

We’re so confident that you’ll land a job in the sector after your internship with us that we promise to give you a 50% refund of your program fees if you don’t. 

And, after successfully completing one of our research internships, you’ll also become an alum of GVI. This means that you’ll be eligible for preferential recruitment if a GVI role becomes available. And that’s not all we have to offer. 

After successfully completing your research internship, you’ll also have access to an online job portal that’ll collate vacancies in the sustainable development industry. 

Online internship opportunities

Are you interested in gaining practical experience for your internship dissertation, but you’re unable to travel? Well, you can still complete your research internship abroad, without having to go anywhere.

GVI’s virtual internships are the perfect opportunity to hone the practical skills that you’ll need in the field you’re researching. Can’t wrap your head around it? Well, our virtual internships will allow you to learn valuable skills, like how to analyse photos of target species like baby sea turtles, or how to work with real drone footage of coral reefs. And, you’ll also complete a project to help an organisation to find solutions for a real-world scenario.

This will add to your knowledge of real-world contexts and teach you how to apply your theoretical understanding to on-the-ground project-work. Our virtual internships offer some of the same online training as our on-the-ground research internships. And, they also offer certificates, accredited by the University of Richmond upon successful completion of your virtual internship. So, which subject areas can you choose from for your virtual internship?

You can do one of the following virtual internships:

Research opportunities on GVI’s research internships

GVI has been supporting participants with research for thesis and projects for years. Our participants have completed studies at our international locations across the globe, in all our focus areas. For more information on the specific research you can be a part of, speak to your enrolment manager. We have hundreds of topics for you to choose from.

Research internship examples

What are the effects of women’s empowerment training?

Topic: Women’s empowerment

Research site: Pokhara, Nepal 

Target population: Local community members

Methodology: Target population completes a self-assessment survey

Analysis: Analyse survey results

Findings: Women who participate in women’s empowerment training have increased income, higher aspirations and greater financial independence.

What is the health status of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef ecosystem?

Topic: Mesoamerican Barrier Reef health and biodiversity

Research site: Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Methodology: Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) methodology and data collection using baited underwater cameras

Analysis: analyse your specific target-species or area of interest

Findings: provide a better understanding of the Mesoamerican population dynamics and overall health of its coral reef.

Research internship papers completed by previous GVI research interns

Read more research papers written by our alumni here, under featured research.

Five questions to ask when you join one of GVI’s research internships

How long are GVI’s research internships?

Our on-the-ground, research internships run between 4 and 24 weeks, depending on your academic level of research. For example, on an undergraduate-level research internship, your fieldwork can be completed between 2 and 4 weeks, whereas a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) level research internship starts with a minimum of 4 weeks fieldwork, with an option of completing as much as 24 weeks fieldwork.

How old do I need to be to join a research internship?

You need to be 18+ years old to complete one of GVI’s research internships.

How do I know which research internship will fit my research interests?

Your enrolment manager will guide you through choosing the program that best suits your field of research. We have hundreds of programs and research topics for you to consider.

How safe is it to join a research internship during COVID-19?

GVI takes the health and well-being of all our participants and staff very seriously. We regularly revise and update our comprehensive Health and Safety policy and have strict COVID-19 protocols in place on-the-ground. 

We stay informed by following updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). We also follow travel advice from the UK, US and Australian governments, and are guided by health advice from local governments in the locations we operate in, to provide you with the safest way to travel.

Can I apply for a bursary to pay for my research internship?

GVI does not provide any academic bursaries for our programs, but you are welcome to apply for independent financial aid such as student loans to cover the program fees. This is because the fees from our programs provide important funding to sustain our projects on the ground. 

GVI may award a scholarship to high-performing participants on a program, or allow a participant to stay on their program for a longer duration at no extra charge.

Download our program brochures

Featured Research

Research Article - Costa Rica

First record of jaguar predation on a loggerhead sea turtle in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Research Article - Seychelles

Linking Protection with the Distribution of Grouper and Habitat Quality in Seychelles

Research Article - Kenya

Trap modication opens new gates to achieve sustainable coral reef sheries

Research Article - Costa Rica

King Vulture scavenging at green turtle carcasses in Tortuguero, Costa Rica 

Research Article - Caribbean

Caribbean Corals in Crisis: Record Thermal Stress, Bleaching, and Mortality in 2005

Research Article - Amazon

The response of faunal biodiversity to an unmarked road in the Western Amazon

Research Article - East Africa

Effects of tourism and environmental drivers on demography of dolphin population

Research Article - South Africa

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