19 Jul 2022

Madison Becker has dived into the port industry with a week of real-world experience alongside the North Queensland Bulk Ports’ (NQBP) environment team.

During her time, Madison gained priceless insight across three ports within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The James Cook University (JCU) Master of Science student was one of two recipients of an environment-focused internship, led by NQBP and JCU’s TropWATER Centre.

Read more below about how Madison bridged the gap between her academic studies and future career path.

What was your main reason for applying for this internship?

My main reason for applying for this internship was to gain insight into potential careers in the industry after I complete my Master of Science in Marine Biology. I was most interested in seeing the industry and applied uses of marine and environmental science, which I have had limited exposure to in a classic academic setting. I also strongly believe in the power of networking and hoped this internship would provide invaluable connections as I move forward with my career.

What was the best part of your week with us?

The best part of the week was talking with NQBP employees, particularly the environmental team, and hearing their stories about how they started their careers, and how they ended up at NQBP. They come from a diverse range of environmental and science-related backgrounds, including marine science, and offered a range of perspectives on the potential careers available beyond academia and research. I also spoke with a fair few JCU alumni at NQBP, who used to be right where I am now, and that was nice to see.

What experiences and skillsets did you learn during your time with NQBP?

One of the best experiences I had this week was getting to sit in on meetings with Traditional Owner groups. It was great to see true engagement from NQBP with Traditional Owner groups about how to work together toward a collaborative future. I have learned that stakeholder engagement is an integral part of the management process and is critical to a successful management plan, environmental or other.

How do you think this hands-on experience will benefit your academic studies and future career path?

I think my time with NQBP will allow me to think beyond the academic perspective and into the applied perspective as I move forward with my own research. Industries, like ports, provide necessary services to people across the world. I think for environmental management moving forward, scientists need to be able to work together with industry to come up with innovative solutions that are best for both people and the natural world. Getting to know people who work on the industry side and have the same mindset as me, is really encouraging.

Did working on the industry side with NQBP bring up potential fields that you may want to explore in the future either in research or management?

Working on the industry side of things has sparked my interest in marine and coastal management. There are so many moving parts involved in the environmental management of coastal industries and therefore many opportunities for improvement and further research. Almost any discipline you come from has skills that are transferrable to the port industry in some capacity.

What would you say to someone who might be interested in applying for a future internship?

I would tell them to definitely apply. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from your experience in this internship. It may even open your eyes to career opportunities you would have never considered when you started your degree at JCU. It certainly has for me.