Environmental Science Internships

Choosing an Internship in Environmental Science

Internships can be a life and career changing portion of the college curricula. Sometimes they are required by your school, but often they are not, it simply depends on your school and program. They leave lasting memories and can be one of the most valuable aspects of obtaining your degree. Internships provide professional work experience to the inexperienced. Oftentimes, just getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. Remember that while doing an internship you are already working in your chosen field and everything you do can carry forward through your environmentalist career. You may be fortunate enough to be offered a position at the end of your internship. A good intern is already trained and familiar with the operational procedures of the company where they worked. If you are looking for Environmental internships, you have a variety of places from which to find them. Look for one specific to your major using some of our great advice and resources.

What Is an Internship?

An internship is an opportunity to come into a professional environment with little or no experience and work hands-on in your chosen field. There are many different internship situations. It may be one day/week, or full-time. The internship position may be for a paid or volunteer worker. There may be a full-fledged internship training program for many students, or you may be the only one in amongst otherwise experienced workers.

Am I Required to Do an Internship If I Major in Environmental Science?

Of course the answer to that question depends completely on what course of study and school you choose. However, it is highly likely all colleges and universities would encourage you to do internships; through them, through special programs, or by finding something on your own. Environmental Science majors may have different opportunities available to them than policy/management , or studies majors. You should be encouraged to work in your field early to get a taste of the work environment you anticipate entering. If it isn't part of your regular semester, perhaps you would consider doing a summer or winter break internship.

Benefits of Doing an Internship in Environmental Studies

Get Your Foot in the Door

Environmental Studies, Science, Policy, and Management are like other professions in that much of your career can be based on who you know. Most believe the best way to get to know more people in your field is through work, which an internship provides. You may be offered a position at the completion of your interview, or you may be given contacts to pursue other positions with after graduation.

Now Bring Your Whole Body

It is important that you are passionate about your work in the Environmental field. Another huge benefit in an internship could be in determining if you actually like the work you have chosen. Perhaps you have decided that you don't like travelling on ocean-going vessels so instead of continuing to major in oceanography, you decide to pursue a career in maritime law. Or, as another example, you realize you need to change your curricula a little so you understand more of the real-world applications of your degree when you are done, by taking extra engineering or chemistry classes.

Environmental Science Internship Possibilities

A great way to procure an internship through your school, which allows you to work while you attend classes, is through a work-study program. Oftentimes work-studies are need-based assistance, so some students may not qualify for these positions. Work-study students may work in their own department or one closely related, or for a graduate advisor if their school offers such degrees. Even though you may be competing with a lower number of students to get the position you want, it still helps to be the best you can be and remember, if you are an Environmental Science major, you may be competing with some of the toughest competitors out there; pre-med students.

Another place to find connections is your department's office. They should have some sort of bulletin board/email list of current positions. People in the community may come to them to look for interns without advertising elsewhere. If you know a business you are interested in working for, it can't hurt to contact them directly and enquire about any openings. If you do make this inquiry, try to be sure you have gone through their website at the bare minimum to check what policies they have in place regarding interns. You wouldn't want to turn them off from you by appearing unprepared.

Lastly, there are established programs with many leading government agencies, private companies, and well known not-for-profit groups. Each of these groups will be explored in further detail at the various specialty majors.

Environmental Science Internships Resources

Government Agency Internships in Environmental Science

NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is tasked with understanding weather, and changes to the ocean and earth, as well as protecting marine resources. NOAA is another agency with active internships. More information may be found here.
NPSThe National Park Service (NPS) works to preserve history and maintain National Parks for the public. NPS has a program for immersing students in Environmental Science. More information about Mosaics in Science may be found here. Applications are accepted Dec 1-Feb 1 for the following summer.

NSFThe National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency dedicated to promote the progress of science while protecting the country. NSF has one of the greatest internship programs going for Environmental Science majors. The program helps undergraduates gain field experience; Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

ORAUOak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) internships is an institute of the United States Department of Energy. It grants numerous internships and fellowships in Environmental fields. More information can be found here.

ENERGYThe United States Department of Energy (DOE)
is tasked with ensuring a prosperous future for the country while utilizing transformative science and technology in meeting our energy needs. A variety of internships are available, most of which are usually performed during the summer.

EPAThe United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is involved in both human health and natural aspects of Environmental Science and offers suggestions for procuring an internship here. Paid internships are advertised in March-May for that year's summer.

USGSThe United States Geological Service (USGS) has sites across the country dedicated to studying the Earth, minimizing loss and damage to life by natural disasters, and managing our natural resources. They have a number of resources for finding internships, paid employment, and volunteering in the field of Environmental Science listed here.

Not-for-Profit Internships in Environmental Science

EDFThe Environmental Defense Fund's mission is to preserve the natural systems on which life depends, through sound science and economics. They accept undergraduate, recent graduate, and graduate students for internships in a variety of positions; policy, science, and general studies.

AGUAmerican Geophysical Union (AGU) is an international non-profit scientific community. Their mission is to advance the understanding of Earth sciences. They have over 62,000 members and are governed by a board.

Sierra ClubThe Sierra Club boosts 2.4 million members and supporters as well as 64 chapters. They believe in exploring, enjoying, and preserving the outdoors and have helped pass the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. This is a link to their career page, where there are internship possibilities in D.C., San Francisco, and throughout the country with more information available.

WWFThe World Wildlife Fund follows a mission of stopping the degradation to the planet Earth and learning to live more in harmony with nature. Internships are available worldwide. More information may be found here.

Environmental Policy/Management Internships

Government Agency Internships in Environmental Policy/Management

CEQThe Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is the White House's group tasked with promoting the health of the country, promoting clean energy, and protecting natural systems. They currently are seeking to curb carbon pollution. The offer 3 internships each year, application are usually accepted. More information can be found

Please note: Many of the agencies listed under Environmental Science may also have positions more closely related to policy available.

Not-for-Profit Internships in Environmental Policy/Management

EDFThe Environmental Defense Fund's mission is to preserve the natural systems on which life depends, through sound science and economics. They accept undergraduate, recent graduate, and graduate students for internships in a variety of positions; policy, science, and general studies.

ELPCThe Environmental Law and Policy Center is dedicated to protecting the Midwest's Environment and Natural Heritage. They are headquartered in downtown Chicago and accept students year round in science and policy, as well as legal students during the summer.

NSACThe National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is tasked with working to reform federal policy for the sustainability of food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. They have secured funding for dozens of programs which promote conservation and sustainability. Three times a year positions are available, you can find the information

Sierra ClubThe Sierra Club boosts 2.4 million members and supporters as well as 64 chapters. They believe in exploring and preserving the outdoors and have helped pass the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Internship information for environmental law positions can be found here.

USGBCThe S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a private non-profit organization, comprised of tens of thousands of member organizations, chapters, and student volunteers, that promotes sustainability in the design, construction and operation of buildings. Internships are available in a wide variety of topics, including policy and design. Most positions are in Washington, D.C. More information is available here.

TWCThe Washington Center (TWC) for Internships and Academic Seminars is an independent, non-profit organization allowing students worldwide the chance to work in Washington, D.C. in order to foster academic and professional achievement, leadership, and civic engagement. More information about Internships can be found here.

Environmental Studies Internships

Government Agency Internships in Environmental Studies

NRELThe National Research Energy Laboratory (NERL) is a laboratory of the DOE focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency technology. Internship positions are available for undergraduate and graduate students. Positions are available both during the school year and in the summer. More information can be found here.

DOTAn area that isn't often considered with Environmental Studies is transportation. There is a very real need for more ecologically educated workers. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) offers internships in 13 different administrations. More can be found here.

Please note: Agencies listed under Environmental Science are most likely to have Environmental Studies internships as well.

Private Company Internships in Environmental Studies

Advanced EnergyAdvanced Energy Industries (AEI) is a leader in technology for numerous green technology items such as solar cells. AEI offers internship programs all year at the home base in Colorado and at their other worldwide sites. More information can be found here.

EOSEos Energy Storage follows its mission by producing cost effective energy storage solutions that are less expensive than other technologies. They offer internships in business development, though opportunities may change. An interest and understanding of clean technology is critical for working for them. More information may be found here.

TeslaTesla Motors is considered a leader in alternative technology for vehicles. Just formed in 2003, they are already on the road in 37 countries and employ more than 6,000 people. They offer internships of 3,6,8, and 12 months for college students. Information can be found here.

SIGSIG is a global trading firm where workers use their own capital to trade financial products. SIG's Trading Internship Program offers college seniors a summer intern program to experience life as a trader with SIG. Energy is one of the commodities traded, so an interest in all energies is beneficial. Like other senior college programs, often recruiting is done from the internship. More information can be found here.

URSBorn from Broadview Research and through United Research, URS Corporation is a worldwide leader in engineering and construction for projects from bridges to water supplies and nuclear plants. If your passion is environmental engineering than URS is one of the companies that may be a good fit for an internship. Positions are available at many of their offices throughout the US, and they have offices in over 50 countries worldwide. More information may be found here.

Not-for-Profit Internships in Environmental Studies

EDFThe Environmental Defense Fund's mission is to preserve the natural systems on which life depends, through sound science and economics. They accept undergraduate, recent graduate, and graduate students for internships in a variety of positions; policy, science, and general studies.

ACOREAmerican Council On Renewable Energy ACORE is a non-profit organization made of a variety of businesses and groups dedicated to building a secure and prosperous America with clean, renewable energy through providing an educational platform for a wide range of interests focused on technology, finance, policy and market development. More can be learned about the internship program here.

SCAThe Student Conservation Association (SCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to building the next generation of conservation leaders through hands on experience. The SCA offers a wide range of internship opportunities to students in agencies, organizations and sustainable businesses. More information is available here.

USGBCThe U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a private non-profit organization, comprised of tens of thousands of member organizations, chapters, and student volunteers, that promotes sustainability in the design, construction and operation of buildings. Internships are available in a wide variety of topics, including policy and design. Most positions are in Washington, D.C. More information is available here.

Sierra ClubThe Sierra Club boosts 2.4 million members and supporters as well as 64 chapters. They believe in exploring and preserving the outdoors and have helped pass the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Internship information for writing in their magazine can be found here.

Alternatives to Internships in Environmental Fields

If you can't find an internship or work-study position, maybe you can volunteer or work for someone. Perhaps your school just isn't set up for internships, or you need to make more money than an internship might offer. If you are able to get a paying job or volunteer through an established volunteer program, you may receive many, of not more of the same benefits as an intern.

More Places to Find Environmental Science Internships

Local Internships in Environmental Science may be found by contacting your Department Program Office at your school, or going to the Career Guidance Office of the school. If you know a student that has worked somewhere you want to work, talk to them for contact information.

Create Your Own Internship in Environmental Science by picking a place you would like to work someday and either approaching them directly, or asking your school office to do it for you. Often, if you are required to do an intern as part of your degree, the department will have a well-established internship program and will be more than happy to pursue new companies, as they may be able to keep that contact for future students.

Depending on your circumstances, you also may be eligible for a more unique internship such as one of the ones listed below:

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Whether you are the first student or the thirtieth student through an internship program at an employer, remember that you represent the school which sent you there. Your behavior could make or break opportunities for future students. A good future employee should always look to leave the best impression for all.

If you have gone through a vetted internship program, through your school, or a well-known name, you will probably not have any issues. However, if this is the first time the company where you are going has an intern, keep an eye out for yourself. Be aware that some employers may equate an intern with free labor. Just because you may not be paid doesn't mean you don't have rights. You should still be considered an employee. If any uncomfortable situations arise, either ask your direct supervisor for help, or if that seems too difficult, go back to your school counselor or program advisor.

If something someone does or asks you to do appears to be unethical, or you in any way feel unable to perform the work without further training or instruction, let someone know. Do not endanger yourself! Companies may not be treating you in such a manner due to any malignancy, but out of ignorance. Perhaps they have never had an inexperienced worker, or perhaps they believed their training program was adequate. Regardless, look out for yourself, as you are the best one for that job!

Additional Information

World Endeavors is an online company placing students in the field worldwide.

Environmental Career Opportunities lists numerous positions around the world in the Environmental fields; science and policy

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook gives guidance on the outlook for the future of the field and provides some detail into the expected roles one would play professionally

Wikipedia has an international list of institutes worldwide which offer Environmental Science degrees. Usually your school will be a great source for internships.