​AKU-VIP Alumni Spotlight: Kaila Belovich​​​

Kaila is an AKU-VIP alum who worked with the Aga Khan University, Pakistan on developing recommendations for AKU’s environmental agenda

Q: What kinds of projects were you working on?

​A: The focus of my internship was developing a briefing report of environmentally sustainable recommendations for AKU’s institutional infrastructure and an environmental curriculum. I did this by thoroughly researching my own university’s (University of Alberta - UofA) Certificate in Sustainability and other sustainable initiatives/programs offered by their Sustainability Council.

One of my main projects included creating various documents that provided the full scope of the UofA’s approach to a certificate program and other sustainable initiatives and presenting my findings to stakeholders at the AKU and their upcoming Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). I also worked on organizing and facilitating a virtual meeting between my mentor and members of the UofA’s Sustainability Council and developed a series of in-depth environmental sustainability challenges for a team of AKU students to work through.

Q: What were some highlights d​uring your internship?

​A: Working one-on-one with my mentor each week allowed me to develop valuable interpersonal, organizational, and other professional work skills that are applicable to any work setting. My placement also enabled me to advance my current research, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in a way that is beneficial to my academic and professional career. Overall, the internship’s virtual setting certainly improved my time management and communication skills, which has increased my confidence in my work abilities in all fields. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my internship experience. I was able to contribute to meaningful and informative projects on a topic I am passionate about and continue to advance the institution's overall environmental, climate, and educational goals. It was a great opportunity for me to see how AKU and its partner institutions could learn from each other across different contexts and continents. I’m glad that I got the chance to participate in furthering partnerships between my academic institution and AKU. 

Q: How has your participation in the AKU-VIP influenced your endeavors going forward?

​A: The work I conducted helped me see the importance of environmental education and made me more passionate about contributing to environmental solutions. Although everyone is experiencing hardships during the pandemic, we must not lose sight of the future impacts and serious consequences climate change will have on people and our planet. Therefore, working with the AKU has inspired me to pursue a career in mitigating the effects of climate change and improving international partnerships in environmental policy and sustainable development. 

Q: What are you up to nowadays?

​A: I completed all my coursework for my undergraduate degree last semester so now I’m focused on finishing various projects in order to obtain my own Certificate in Sustainability, as well as a Certificate in International Learning. I am also currently volunteering for the Alberta Student Leadership Summit and redrafting my resume to hopefully find a job related to the environment or sustainability. Since the pandemic has halted relatively all social activities, I have tried my best to stay active by skating outside or taking day trips to the Rocky Mountains whenever possible! 

Q: Any advice for future incoming virtual interns? 

​A: Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout your application process and show confidence in your abilities! As well, since your internship placement probably takes place in a different time-zone make sure to have a flexible schedule and show you can communicate effectively on a virtual platform. Lastly, good luck and have fun!​