Why are internships important?
I would like to share with you and all my fellow interns a compilation of other opportunities in the field of conservation. Such opportunities for students to gain practical work experience should be an integral part of any college education as it further develops skills and professional competency. Internships are important as they are becoming a pre-requisite for future permanent entry-level employment.
Recent employment statistics show Hispanics are in a great disadvantage when competing for conservation positions when compared to overall national representation, for more information visit this report- Page 10. Internship opportunities are one way for Hispanic students to acquire the experience necessary to compete for these opportunities. Thankfully, HNIP (HACU National Internship Program), CHCI-CIP (CHCI Congressional Internship Program) and EFTA’s Latino Internship Program initiatives are leading the way towards leveling the field and diversifying the workforce.
Table 1: Internship Opportunities with Special Emphasis on Hispanics
Table 2: Internship Opportunities with Special Emphasis on Minorities
Table 3: Internship Opportunities with Special Emphasis on Bird Conservation
Table 4: Internship Opportunities with Special Emphasis on Nature Conservation
For many reasons, some students are unaware or are unable to pursue an internship during their college years. In my case, while pursuing undergraduate studies I decided it was better if I finished my degree early. I took 1 to 2 courses every summer. Though I reached my goal of graduating early the downside was that I did not have enough “real world experience”. Almost all job posts in any professional field added the following quote: “Applicants with previous internship experience highly desirable”. It did not take too long for me to realize I had to go back to school. During my masters degree studies, I got involved in research which payed for my tuition and student organizations to develop my leadership skills. I also started applying for internships and was selected to work for the US Forest Service during the Summer of 2012 through HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities). Doing an internship really opened the doors for me. After the HACU Summer 2012 internship I was selected for 2 more internships, which gave me the opportunity to learn, grow professionally and serve the public.
My advice is to not just do well in coursework but also to seek other opportunities within the university and outside in the public or private workforce. There are opportunities (e.g Pathways) out there but it requires time, commitment, discipline and perseverance to find the right opportunities for you (Access Google Spreadsheet with Internship Opportunities). There are many people whose job is to help young college students find there way into an entry level position. Particularly in the case of minorities, there are emphasis programs to help minority students get into professional jobs that will diversify our nation’s workforce. Check this link for more information on Hispanic career programs. My suggestion is to get involved with an organization either volunteering/interning or doing research. This will to get you noticed and provide you with practical experience!
Contacts: Public domain contact information for government employees in charge of Hispanic Emphasis Programs in the USDA, Forest Service, DOE and EPA, government agencies with the duty to care for the environment.
Picture Caption: Cross country skiing at Camp Hale near Denver, CO during HACU Spring 2013 internship with the DOI Bureau of Reclamation.