Mimi completes an eventful internship at EUMETSAT!

Last month, Mimi Amaichigh completed her three-month internship within the Strategy, Communication and International Relations (SCIR) division at EUMETSAT.

Mimi was tasked with, amongst other things, organising and moderating some large online events and she pulled both off with ease! (Or at least, she made it look easy!) She handled them with a lot of enthusiasm, competence and professionalism – well done Mimi!

Before she parted ways, we had a chat to find out a bit more about her experience – see for yourself what she got up to below.

1) Can you please introduce yourself and your role?

My name is Mimi Amaichigh and I’m a geology graduate with a specialisation in palaeontology, and current meteorology student from Vienna, Austria. I am serving a three-month internship within the SCIR division at EUMETSAT, where I support the team on matters relevant to the cooperation with Africa under EUMETSAT’S International Relations Officer, Vincent Gabaglio.

My main interests lie in the field of climate change, environment and sustainable development.

Mimi outside the EUMETSAT HQ in Darmstadt

2) What are your main tasks?

My main tasks were the moderation of the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) webinar back in March, including the organisation of the webinar on “Climate Monitoring from Space”. These are part of a series of webinars complimenting the 14th User Forum in Africa, to address more specific topics for users of EUMETSAT’s satellite data, but they are also put in place to reach a greater audience.

Another big task during my internship was being part of the preparation for the High-Level Ministerial Conference on Europe-Africa Space on the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council committee, and being selected to act as the co-super rapporteur for the event.

I was also given the responsibility of following up the funding priorities of the European Commission’s Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) for sub-Saharan Africa. This involved providing a short briefing on a few selected ones and following various meetings for which the use of EUMETSAT data for various sectors in Africa is pertinent and reporting back on them.

3) Was this your first internship?

No. I did my first month-long internship back in 2015, while I was doing my bachelor’s degree in geology at the Geological Survey in Lusaka, Zambia.

4) What made you choose EUMETSAT and when did you first hear about us?

EUMETSAT and the SCIR division seemed very attractive because even though I have a scientific background, I am very interested in the interdisciplinary nature of climate and environmental issues on a more global scale and wanted to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day work of such an organisation. My background really helps me understand the technical and scientific aspects in a better manner, but the political and socio-economical parts also come to play in a big way and the impact of science is really seen on a practical level.

The international nature of the organisation was also very important to me, because I believe cooperation between different countries and actors is key to long-lasting change. Another big point that attracted me to this internship was the cooperation with Africa. My roots lie there, even if I was born and raised in Vienna. As I have always been interested in development aid, I was always looking for a way to get involved with the continent on some level. So this seemed like the ultimate marriage of all my interests and a great opportunity to learn in what capacity I may be of service.

I first heard of EUMETSAT through the Central Institution of Meteorology and Geodynamics in Austria (ZAMG), because I was looking for an internship to gain more practical experience.

5) Can you go into a bit more detail on the EO Africa series of webinars you were involved with? What was your role exactly and what did you contribute?

This event is part of a series of three webinars organised to keep stakeholders (users, decision makers, partner institutions, etc.) informed about the access and exploitation of satellite data operated by EUMETSAT in support of sustainable development in Africa. These webinars are organised in partnership with African institutions or initiatives. The first event took place on March 31st, 2021 and focused on the new MTG satellite and its application in Africa.

As I started my internship in the middle of March, I was able to help with the final preparations for the first webinar and was even tasked with moderating the entire event. My role on the second one was to come up with the programme, organise, coordinate and moderate the webinar.

6) What were you doing before coming here?

I was working in the tourism industry to sustain myself and do something very different from what I studied, to broaden my horizons and get away from academia for a little while. However, due to the pandemic I wasn’t able to continue that anymore and so started taking some courses in meteorology, to deepen my knowledge on climate and weather in general.

7) What are your plans after leaving?

To gain more experience working in an international environment and to learn more from different areas, in order to be the best and most effective asset I can be.

8) What were you most looking forward to before coming to EUMETSAT and has your experience met your expectations?

I was really looking forward to working in a professional international environment with people from everywhere and working on such an interesting project. Due to the pandemic, I wasn’t really able to meet many people – that really was the worst part of the experience because I really enjoy interacting doing that. Being in a new place is an opportunity to meet new people, learn from each other and grow to raise the whole experience to another level.

9) Do you feel like you’ve had any kind of personal growth during this time?

Yes. This is the longest extended period I’ve spent alone abroad and it also helped my personal growth to be away at a time where everything around me was locked down. I had to come to terms with being in a new place on my own, without having a big opportunity or space to openly connect and interact with new people at work or during my free time.

10) What do you think you’ll take away from this experience and how will it help you in the future?

That I am capable of doing more if I put my mind to it and that I am capable of working in an organisation like this. It has also showed me how to act and work in a highly professional environment and has given me a lot of insight into the work of decision makers and their process of getting results.

11) What have you enjoyed the most about this experience and did you come across any challenges?

I have really enjoyed the work and really appreciated shepherding a project from its inception to its completion.

12) Is this your first time living in Germany? If so, how does it compare to home?

Yes. It is eerily similar (language, look) to living in Vienna, but there are many slight differences, which make it feel familiar and a little off at the same time. I have also always lived in a bigger city, so it was also interesting to move to a smaller town.

13) What do you like most about working at EUMETSAT as an organisation in general?

I really enjoyed the environment. I was treated like a full member of the department from day one (shown in the attitude from my colleagues towards me, but also from my duties and responsibilities). It was high performance with high expectations, but everybody was very generous with their time and patient with me as the new person, so I felt really comfortable and welcome. This is also very motivating and pushed me to always want to perform on a high level.

14) Have you had any memorable moments during your time here?

Yes. Interesting things happened during some of the video conferences, which I would rather not elaborate on ☺

I also really enjoyed travelling to the cold and wet north of the country. Seeing another side of Germany in a city like Hamburg and walking around during low tide in the Wadden Sea were highlights of my stay.

15) EUMETSAT aside, what do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

Due to COVID and the rather depressing weather this spring, there weren’t that many options of going to the cinema, visiting many new places or socialising. However I am a bit of a cinephile, so I had a great time watching and dissecting different movies and shows. I also tried to see as much of Darmstadt and Frankfurt as I could and was also able to visit the north of the country. I’m also looking forward to visiting some museums now that it’s possible again (especially the Grube Messel, which is a must-see place for a palaeontologist).

16) Do you have any advice for our younger audience that might want to follow in your footsteps one day? Things for them to think about when considering EUMETSAT as a place to intern…

I would really advise them not be too scared or too intimidated to apply. If they are really interested they should go for it. It is a wonderful work environment and a place where you can learn so many new things and also gain new experiences living in this city.

Thanks so much to Mimi for all her hard work and for taking the time to share her experiences with us.

To see more of what life is like #InsideEUMETSAT, follow us on Instagram for more regular content.

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Natalie Lunt

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