DES Internship Program
What Is An Internship? (see important links at the bottom of this page)
An internship is an educational strategy that combines academic skills with career-related work experience to form a well-rounded educational program. It is intended to use and improve skills characteristic of a particular field. An internship allows a student to acquire and apply practical skills in field experiences while working toward career goals, which are aligned with the goals of a supervising professional or agency. An internship bridges the gap between formal learning and active application of what is learned.
Why Do An Internship?
Most work in the environmental fields takes place in organizations, including government agencies, public interest groups, industrial and business firms, and professional consulting. Some early familiarity with how one works in such settings can make a major difference after graduation when you are in the job market or continuing your studies. Professional behavior, good communication and people skills, and the ability to effectively plan and complete a project, are some, but not all of the strengths developed during an internship experience. The national collegiate magazine "U" reports that over two-thirds of college students who successfully complete internships in organizations are eventually offered a regular job by that same host organization.
An internship is not limited to "gopher" work or bottle washing in the laboratory, although interns usually do a good deal of demanding low-level or "grunt" work, which is legitimate. An internship should involve using and improving skills in your field of interest, although sometimes you will be surprised by what some of those skills involve, including project planning, communications, ability to think critically, and problem-solving methods. An internship should involve regular contact with one or more members of the host organization; an important means to learning many new skills. In special cases, such as independent fieldwork in remote areas, some internships may not involve such regular contact.
Ideally, an internship will be paid; however, you should be prepared to consider an unpaid internship. Many organizations, especially public interest organizations, environmental groups, and public agencies, cannot afford to pay, but offer valuable learning and experiential opportunities. You should not be expected to pay your own expenses, such as for travel, materials, and lodging when performing the organization's work.
The internship commitment should be approximately 120 hours. This translates into a 3-week experience working full-time at 40 hours per week. DES's internship program is designed to be flexible to meet the needs of the student and the host organization. Thus, many internships will be half time or flex time over a longer duration (e.g., an internship may be during a semester or the summer).