Gaining International Experience in Environmental Science

Whether you have been hit by the travel bug, your parents promised a trip for graduation (anywhere you wanted to go!), you can't find a job close to home, or you just plain want to build a skill-set to set you apart from your peers, you may be looking for international work in Environmental Science. This work could come as a volunteer position, as a class, an internship, or paid work. Finding the first may be just as difficult as the later, even though most companies need free labor, they may have strict working guidelines for accepting volunteers.

Going through your college or university is probably the safest and simplest route. Many schools have exchange programs in place, and even if they don't have one in your department, they may be able to contact the cooperating school for suggestions or set up something just for you. Many field schools exist :

While many programs exist as well as what your university may offer:

Before you read the rest of this article, check out the following page: Environmental Career Opportunities . Did you find one or more position descriptions that lit an internal fire, and made you think you were on the right track? Well then, here is a list of other things you need to work on.

  • Be prepared to look far in advance of when you plan to travel, you may need visas, working permits, etc. Plus it gives you time to do some of the other items below.
  • Be fluent in more than English. Even if you picked a position in Italy or East Africa, you are probably going to be better off knowing Spanish and English than just English. Being able to think in more than one language is a plus, and so many languages are close to Spanish that you will be three steps ahead of your buddy that just knows English. You may have time to invest in Rosetta Stone or another quick learning tool before travelling.
  • Research! Research! Research! What is the political situation in your chosen work country? What will the climate be like at the time of year you are going? Will you be allowed to do the work you want to do based on your age? Gender? Can you find others that have worked there before for their suggestions?
  • Be ready for cultural differences. This extends from the workplace to how you greet someone. Personal space changes around the world. Gestures are different. Attitudes towards genders vary. Your wardrobe may need some radical alterations. One thing that is mostly universal is respect. Being polite, genuine, and hard working goes a long way in any culture.

Words of caution: Use your head! Be aware of scams! Try and stick to known programs as much as you can, especially if it is your first time travelling. If something changes globally, don't be afraid to cancel. Many volunteer sites may provide free food and housing if you pay for your ticket there. Make sure that it is adequate for what you need before agreeing.

Jennifer Aicher

Jennifer Aicher has a Master's in Chemical Oceanography from the University of Miami and has spent many years travelling and studying the world's oceans.She has lived in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, American Samoa, Hawaii, Miami, and now calls the Florida panhandle her home.She has started an entire Marine Science college degree program, administrated water chemistry facilities, and conducted research around the globe.Throughout her career she has also been a grant writer, administrative writer, published weekly newspaper columns, and scientific content writer.She continues to write a series of books for pre-school aged children.
Jennifer Aicher