Save the Rhino International – Interview with Rory Harding, Michael Hearn Intern 2013
Save the Rhino International are now looking for applicants to be the ninth Michael Hearn Intern at Save the Rhino, a one year fixed contract, paid internship based in London. Here we speak with the outgoing Intern Rory Harding about his experiences and career path to date.
What’s your job title?
I am the Michael Hearn Intern at Save the Rhino International, this position is now in its ninth year and provides an opportunity for a young enthusiastic conservationist to gain experience working for a fundraising charity. The internship was set up in memory of Mike Hearn, a great conservationist who dedicated his life to rhino conservation in Namibia.
Why do you work in conservation?
Human history on this planet has been punctuated by extinctions, however where they can be avoided I think they should be. The natural world has a lot to give, and a lot to show, but so much of this richness is still undiscovered and under threat from a host of pressures, many of which are human induced. Conservationists need to exist to balance the damage that’s being caused.
What are the main activities in your work?
The Save the Rhino Intern is a full time paid position, various key tasks make up the working week, but one of the main responsibilities is managing Save the Rhino’s London Marathon team. Equally important is assistance in writing grant proposals and reports and then there is the management of the merchandise and memberships sold on the website. However, as the team is small there are constantly new challenges and events to get involved in. The intern also takes part in four weeks field experience working with Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia.
What does Save the Rhino do?
Save the Rhino International works to conserve viable populations of all five rhino species. We are predominantly a fundraising organisation and therefore do not have any of our own conservation programmes on the ground. We work to communicate the need for vital conservation, raising awareness and granting funds to projects and programmes throughout Africa and Asia.
How can people work for Save the Rhino?
Save the Rhino currently employs seven staff and will advertise any vacancies that arise on www.savetherhino.org and several other job sites. We also have regular office and events volunteers who help out at different points through the year, as well as all our fundraisers. Getting in touch and putting your name out there is the best way to get involved. Job vacancies are posted on the website but to volunteer contact [email protected].
What’s the best part of the job?
For me it’s all about the unexpected, and Save the Rhino is able to dose you up on that in great quantities. One day I’ll be reading the latest report from the field and the next I’ll be walking across the millennium bridge fully suited in a rhino costume, and then again I’ll find myself face to face with a real rhino in the Namib desert.
What’s the worst part of the job?
It’s hard to find a con, but I guess the administration that goes with any charity can sometimes seem like a mountain. However you quickly learn to plough through this and I will never underestimate the importance of good admin and office skills again!
What key steps in your conservation career you have taken?
After graduating with a Zoology degree in 2012, I spent a year volunteering and working for NGO’s in the UK. I also secured funding to run my own independent art project at London Zoo, working with young people from South London, before successfully applying to work for Save the Rhino. Gaining experience writing my own fundraising proposals and being proactive was definitely a turning point. A year on, I now have field experience under my belt as well as key skills in fundraising and will be on the look out for new opportunities.
What advice would you give someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?
Throw yourself into things, you never know quite what will happen, but that’s OK and its surprising where things can lead unexpectedly. It’s also essential to volunteer wherever you can and gain some basic office work experience and if possible fundraising experience too. Even if you eventually want more hands on conservation work in the future, it can’t be underestimated how useful it is to see it from this end, understanding how conservation work is funded and charities like Save the Rhino operate.
What’s your favourite song?
Like my favourite animal it’s adaptable and liable to change over time, I guess depending on what memories are attached. Right now though, I’m listening to Hold On by Alabama Shakes.