Faculty of Science

Turning An Internship Into A Once In A Life Time Experience

Eric Rops in Tanzania

On the job: Eric Rops' sixteen month Internship work term was a little out of the ordinary when he worked with Sander Geophysics Limited in Tanzania. 


By Lauren Starr

Third year Geophysics student Eric Rops knew he wanted career related work when he applied to be in the Science Internship program. What he didn`t expect was the life changing experience that would follow.
“It was actually my parents who encouraged me to do an internship,” and after some hard work Eric successfully secured a 16 month paid position with Sander Geophysics Limited (SGL). SGL is a relatively large, family run company based in Ottawa that provides worldwide airborne geophysical surveys for petroleum and mineral exploration, and geological and environmental mapping.

Eric knew right away that this was going to be a great opportunity but the real surprise came when his employer told him he would be travelling half way around the world to conduct geophysical surveying for the government of Tanzania.  Eric left for Tanzania in August and returned in October.

Being from the small town of Mitchell Ontario, which has a population of about 4,500 people, Eric`s biggest adventures to date had included a trip to Disney World and a summer work experience in Baffin Island

Rops going to work

Off to work!

with an Iron Mining Company.  He admits the culture shock in Africa was real. “There is just such a staggering contrast to their way of living as compared to here in Canada. It’s difficult to describe, but after about a week I began adjusting to it.” The work days were long and the weather was hot but he is very excited to be returning right after New Year`s for another two months. “I am hoping I will even get to go back a third time to see the end of the project.”

Contrary to popular belief interns do not fetch coffee all day. In the field Eric tests equipment, monitors the aircraft and processes airborne geophysical data to determine prospective areas for petroleum and mineral development for the project’s client. In addition he is compensated very well and given extra vacation time for the weeks he is away. “After this second trip I plan to stay abroad for two weeks and maybe even go on Safari.”

Western’s Earth Science department offers professional programs that fulfill all course requirements for professional registration as a Geoscientist as set by the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario (APGO) and the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists (CCPG). Internships can be counted towards the mandatory work experience that is required for registration.

Science internships are available to any student who is completing at least one major in Science or the Bachelor of Medical Sciences program. This year 61 Science and BMSc students are working in a variety of government and industry positions, including product quality control, pharmaceutical research, laboratory testing, software development, manufacturing and much more.

While some students are concerned about the idea of taking a year away from school to work, Eric describes it as “such a positive long term investment in your future. Plus you will return to school with the confidence to go to professional school or better compete in the job market after graduation.”