Swapping a ‘safe’ job in civil law for an unpaid internship at World Land Trust (WLT) is not everyone’s idea of a sensible career move but, as Letícia Jurema argues, sometimes you have to take risks if you want to do what you believe in.
Technically, I am from Brazil. However, I have lived in so many countries that I prefer to think that I am a citizen of the world and just happen to have a Brazilian accent.
Although my professional background is as a ‘boring’ civil lawyer, I have always had an interest in environmental issues. This is probably due to my early childhood in Recife on the north east coast of Brazil, where I grew up surrounded by rich and luxurious Atlantic Forest and mangroves, exploring the diverse flora and fauna, collecting Cicada shells and trying to catch frogs. Indeed, my mother says before I learned how to walk, I was already climbing trees!
My father played an important part in shaping my attitude towards the environment. His love for nature and his constant desire to be around it, he passed on to me. However, throughout my life this feeling of utter respect for and fascination with nature has always been combined with a deep sadness and frustration for the overwhelming destruction suffered by these lush and abundant landscapes.
This is why I am incredibly happy to have made this risky career change. Whereas before I spent time on countless private debt claims, divorces and construction conflicts relating to beach houses, now I can use my legal background to help safeguard valuable habitats around the world. This is not to say civil lawyers are not important, I am simply saying that I am happy finally to be working on something that I really believe in.
(Letícia Jurema, World Land Trust intern)
Indeed, as I witness how ambitious and often short-sighted development constantly takes priority over the conservation of natural habitats, I realise how important WLT’s work is. In my view, land purchase – along with other legal measures that help protect wild places – is the best way to guarantee that these precious sites will be safe from development.
Obviously, not everybody will end up working in an environmental organisation. But we can all do our bit in our jobs and in the way we lead our lives. My parents’ principles and values about nature profoundly affected the way I live my life, and I am a great believer in the power of education. If we can transmit our love and respect for nature to our children, then the work of future conservationists will be just that little bit easier.
WLT offers six-month unpaid internships based at WLT’s office in Suffolk. Interns contribute to WLT’s work, in project development and conservation management, and become involved with day-to-day work of an international conservation charity. More about WLT’s intern programme »