Kelly Nolan is a recent environmental science and policy graduate from the University of Maryland. She spent one month on Start Me Up’s Remote Internship Program.

This past month, I have had the privilege of working with an amazing team at a coral reef organization based in Indonesia. With my coworkers all stationed 16,000 km away in Bali, I sat at my desk in New Jersey while I completed my set tasks for each day.

Although I currently live in New Jersey, USA, I recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy.

Growing up in a small beach town, I felt drawn to the ocean and decided to pursue a future career in the environmental field. After graduating college, I was ready to begin working on the environmental issues that mean the most to me.

Why Conservation?

I fell in love with marine conservation after living in Australia for a few months and seeing the magnitude of the Great Barrier Reef first hand. While living in Australia, I had the opportunity to visit Bali on a short trip, where I fell in love with the lush and beautiful atmosphere. These moments traveling abroad really emboldened my passion for environmental protection.

I was lucky enough to see a posting on Facebook for Start Me Up one day while living in Australia. Start Me Up appealed to me since I wanted to keep working and traveling while experiencing new opportunities.

My new plan was to leave Australia and move to Bali after my visa was over to complete the Start Me Up program. However, as coronavirus turned the world upside down, I ended up moving back home with my family, with my dream of Bali seemingly gone.

Once I saw that Start Me Up was accommodating for the pandemic by offering remote internships, I immediately signed up. I was thrilled to be able to use this time in quarantine for a project that I was excited to work on.

The Organization

After being paired with the organization that I would be interning at, I did a ton of research on the NGO. It’s a coral reef restoration organization that creates artificial reefs that have low voltage electric currents running through it, helping the coral grow faster.

I was immediately impressed with the work that they’ve done and continue to do to restore coral reefs.

What I Got up To

I have had the opportunity to work on marketing strategies for their Adopt-A-Coral campaign and analyze the current market. I have created customer and donor personas for those interested in the organization and strategized future plans given the “new normal” due to COVID restrictions.

I meet weekly with the team where we discuss what I have worked on so far and what projects we should move forward with. I constantly collaborated with other members of the team to set goals for each week and brainstorm new ideas.

On top of this, I helped create a full business plan for the organization that will be pitched to investors. The business plan outlines all aspects of the organization such as marketing tactics, financial projections, and how to match our competitors.

As someone who would love to work internationally, getting the chance to work with this NGO has been a great experience.

The Future

The team and I overcame time zones to have meetings and message each other back and forth. In the future, I would love to work at a non-profit or start up. I love being able to work with a small team and to tackle local issues that have a great impact on the area.

While coronavirus has halted my plans for a bit, I am excited to keep traveling in the future and potentially find work abroad.

I am looking forward to using the skills that I have learned while working for this organization for the future professions that I may have. I feel excited and optimistic about the future, knowing that I have a niche set of skills for other similar opportunities.

Working for the coral reef organization has offered me a unique experience that allowed me to work on a project that I am passionate about. Learning more about coral and beach restoration and how it impacts tourism, medicine, and food, was eye-opening.

Why Work for a Coral Reef Organization?

The work that they continue to do is a great example for all other environmental impact programs. Their dedication to educating and empowering the local community is an important pillar of their business model, something I highly respect.

Coral restoration projects are vital for the continuation of coral reefs. Climate change, mass coral bleaching, and pollution all are threats to the future of coral reefs. However, projects like this help me continue to be optimistic about the future.

The entire team at the NGO is dedicated to restoring coral and protecting biodiversity within the Coral Triangle. In the future, more and more organizations like this will be commemorated for their hard work and dedication to the planet that we all love.

I cannot wait to keep up with what they do in the future to see how far they have grown and what they have accomplished.

The Start Me Up Remote Internship Program

On top of all of this, I had an amazing group at Start Me Up that helped me through this past month. I learned so much just from the weekly seminars that we would have and loved meeting new people who also were completing the internship program.

The support from the entire team at Start Me Up really made my experience worth it. Start Me Up gave me an opportunity to expand on my interests, learn new skills, and prepare for my future career more than I ever imagined.

The past month has been amazing, all thanks to my team at the coral reef organization and Start Me Up.

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