Internship helps put health, safety and wellbeing front and centre at Environment Science and Research (ESR)


Below is an article provided from Environmental Science and Research celebrating their latest 2022/23 H&S Wellbeing Summer Intern Zung Mai.


For ESR’s science and research to thrive, we need people bringing skills and insights from a range of disciplines. Health, Safety, and Wellbeing (HSW) is one such expertise that’s key to Environmental Science and Research's (ESR) success and plays a crucial role in helping us keep our communities safe.

Demonstrating our commitment to embed HSW, ESR has proudly hosted Health, Safety & Wellbeing Intern Zung Mai as part of an effort spearheaded by the Government Health & Safety Lead (GHSL) to grow the next generation of HSW professionals. In a nutshell, GHSL provides support to government agencies to enable leadership of HSW for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

Once Zung finished studying towards her Honours degree in psychology at the end of 2022, she received an email promoting internship opportunities with GHSL that piqued her interest.

“Admittedly I didn’t know much about HSW when I first received the email. But the more I thought about it, it became clear that my studies in psychology could align with the drive of HSW to get people to adopt safer practices.

Zung meeting MPI Deputy Director-General Vincent Arbuckle.


“So, I took a chance and applied for the internship, and was delighted to be invited to an interview. Although I studied at the University of Otago, I call the Wellington region home and so I was particularly pleased to be offered the chance to intern at ESR’s Kenepuru Science Centre,” says Zung.

Zung says she encourages other students who come across similar opportunities to ‘take the plunge’, whether they’re in HSW or some other area. 

“I didn’t know my degree could lead to a career in HSW, but I thought the programme sounded like a great opportunity to put psychology theory into practice. And that’s all you need –to find something which interests you, and you might be surprised to see just how relevant your studies will be to your work.

“I always wanted to apply my studies in a way that can help keep people safe, and it’s fair to say I haven’t been disappointed with my HSW internship.”


During her time at ESR, Zung has worked closely with the eleven other interns at various Government agencies, getting together for events like workshops. They have majored in a diverse range of subject areas including psychology, public health, and management.

For Zung, the chance to sink her teeth into projects from start to finish has been very rewarding. 

“A highlight of my internship at ESR has been working on and engagement programme, which is focused on developing and conceptualising how HSW representatives are nominated at ESR’s four Science Centres.”

Zung says she has felt well-supported throughout her internship, from past interns as well leaders at ESR.

“It’s great to work at organisations like ESR where you rub shoulders with people from so many different areas of expertise, who are so willing to share their insights with you and are so generous with their time.”

Zung’s ‘top tip’ from a HSW perspective? 

“Taking care of yourself and your colleagues starts with being attuned to your own wellbeing. By being mindful of this, we can all help build a healthy work culture that makes everyone comfortable to raise issues when they arise in the HSW space. 

“This means building relationships between people – which is so much of what health, safety and wellbeing is about,” says Zung.

All the very best to Zung for the future as she takes on her next adventure as Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisor at Whānau Āwhina Plunket.


Published with the permission from Environmental Science Research.