MSc Internships - Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation


Coordinator Runa Magnusson
Supervisors Lecturers of PEN; supervisor of the Internship Provider (IP)
MSc courses Restricted Optional for MBI-D and MFN-B. Free choice for other students
Codes and duration PEN 70424 (16 weeks) – PEN 70439 (26 weeks)
Admission requirements See MSc programme
Character Working experience outside WU at a professional academic level
Internship Providers Any professional organization at an academic level in the field of Nature Conservation and Ecology.

Learning outcomes

  • Orientation in the future professional environment of research, policy or management.
  • Application of gained knowledge and skills.
  • Extension of knowledge by working in a new environment on new subjects
  • Deepening of theoretical knowledge and broadening skills.
  • Job perspective improved by initiating a professional network.
  • Personal growth. Development of the ‘Wageningen University & Research’ graduate profile: increased knowledge, self-reliance, motivation, global view, awareness of socio-ecological basis of conservation problems.


Preparatory phase


Start your preparations at least 6 month in advance. Visit internship information meetings organized by the student associations. Read this instruction and other documentation. Elaborate your own internship profile by answering ‘why, how, when and where’ questions ( see contract). Consider a minor thesis outside Wageningen University & Research as an alternative for an internship.


Make an appointment with the internship coordinator. Discuss your profile. Select an PEN supervisor. Complete a registration form (copies to the coordinator, PEN supervisor, PEN-secretary).


Select one or some potential Internship Providers (IP), using the networks of the PEN supervisor, internet, the WUR library etc.


Universities, institutes, agencies, consultancy bureaus, larger management organisations.

Conservation Management

Governmental and non-governmental organisations; commercial firms and private organisations: Conservation policy and education: Global, continental, national and local organisations (UNEP, FAO,WWF, IUCN, Greenpeace; EU, ECNC, LNV, Provinces, Communities, NGO’s

Commercial internship brookers (e.g. Experience International) are expensive. Volunteer programmes offer mainly routine work, which is below your academic level.

Discuss with the IP supervisor a subject and prepare a concept working plan (e-mail, telephone and arrange a personal contact if possible). Discuss the suitability and feasibility of the plan with your PEN supervisor.


Complete and sign the contract including  the approved working plan. Distribute copies to all parties: (PEN-secretary, PEN internship coordinator, PEN supervisor and examiner, IP supervisor, Study coordinator). The contract includes agreements about tasks, rights and obligations of the student, PEN and the IP. the code, duration and period, addresses of organizations and persons involved, subject, schedule, product (e.g. report, scientific paper, map, design, management plan) format, ownership rights of data and products, locations of activities, supervision frequency, facilities, indemnities, insurances and examination critera.

Practical aspects

Practical aspects should be timely and carefully arranged: driving licence, language courses, visum, ticket; reservations, bank accounts, health (vaccinations, medicins), insurances for risks not covered by WU or IP, special body wear and care products, travel schemes, Dutch public transport card cancelling (DUO), address list for PEN supervisor and relatives.

Internship phase

Working plan

If necessary, adjust the working plan after arrival and send it to your PEN supervisor for approval.


Discuss problems and progress weekly or more frequently with your IP supervisor. Keep your PEN-supervisor also informed (1 x per 2 maanden, e-mail). In case of serious problems or conflicts contact him/her and the coordinator immediately.


Participate in meetings and activities of the IP and the IP-supervisor for orientation and social reasons. Present and discuss  results and products during your internship.


The report must be finalized before the end of the internship according to the schedule. The concept should therefore be timely sent to the PEN supervisor. Keep a log-book, make photos and store data safely using back-ups. Prepare for your own use and for the examiner a self-reflexion report discussing failures and successes. What went well, what went wrong, and why? Include a section dealing with the IP (history, mission, methods, organsiation and products) as a result of your orientation.


Similar to MSc theses, students are expected to give a final presentation about their internship at PEN. The presentation should be restricted to 20 minutes and be given during the weekly research meetings on Tuesday morning.

Evaluation phase


Hand in a digital version (CD) and 3 hard-copies of the final report (for the NCP-supervisor, examiner and secretary). The PEN supervisor forwards his evaluation and that of the IP-supervisor to the examiner using evaluation forms. The examiner fixes the final mark, based on the evaluation forms, the report, the self-reflexion report, the presentation and the final meeting during which the student defends his product to the PEN supervisor and examiner.

Evaluation criteria

Major criteria for the evaluation and marking follow the evaluation forms:

  • Professional skills (motivation, initiative, self-supporting ability, efficiency, data analysis, implementation of comments, planning);
  • Report quality (scientific quality, use of available data, justification of conclusions, readability.
  • Presentation quality (oral presentation during the internship and at NCP)
  • Final meeting: quality of the defense of the internship product by the student



Major costs are travelling, accomodation and meals.

The IP usually provides for accomodation and working costs. Some offer in addition a salary to cover meals.


Several funds supply grants to cover travelling costs.


The collective Wageningen University & Research travel and accident insurance applies to internship students goin abroad. Register before departure at the SSC desk. Accident and liability risks during internship working hours should be covered by the IP (check!).

Additional courses

If you want to combine an internship with academic courses: see


- Should I conduct my  internship after or before my MSc thesis?

After. Unless ‘orientation’ is your major objective. Your profesional skill and value for the IP is higher and your contribution more valuable after having completed your MSc thesis.

- When should I start my preparations?

Plan your intake and registration at least 6 months before your departure.

- Are suitable Internship providers hard to find?

No, unless you start searching too late. BSc graduates from Wageningen University are - generally speaking- ‘wanted’. Exploit your strength: high quality labour for a low price.

- Are travel grants hard to find?

Yes. Demand exceeds supply. So, act as an early bird.

- What are common levels of indemnities?

200-300 euro/month

- Can internships fail?

Yes, but fortunately they very seldom do. Careful preparation reduces the failure risk. Make an urgency scenario.

- Do students get their first job at their IP?

Sometimes, if their internship is conducted as a last part of the MSc just before graduation. But also without getting a job, products and networks deriving from your internship remain valuable components on your CV.

- Are internships interesting, instructive, useful or dangerous?

All qualifications may apply. It basically depends on you. More specifically, it depends on your initiative, preparation and commitment. Many students from Wageningen University remember their internship as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience.