intern

My Summer as an EPA Intern

By Danielle Nichols

As I finished up my final assignments and cleared out my cubicle, I could not help but be amazed at how quickly time flew during my summer at EPA headquarters. I felt as if I had just started and was already saying my goodbyes. (You can read my earlier blog about why I wanted to intern at EPA.) Although it was time for me to start my fall semester, I knew that I wanted to return to the agency. Being from New Jersey, I’m interested in learning more about how EPA affects my region and am planning to intern in EPA’s New York regional office next year.

Unlike most organizations that assign interns with bottom of the totem pole type work, the Office of Water communications staff welcomed me as a team member and encouraged me to share my skills and ideas. I suggested content for social media posts, edited the Office of Water’s “Water Headlines” e-newsletter, assisted with Twitter chats, and analyzed social media trends.

Being an environmental science major, my coursework tends to focus less on communication and outreach, and more on the scientific background. By working on a communications team, I developed skills that are incredibly useful in organizing the environmental campaigns I’m involved with on campus.

Although I provided input, I feel that EPA has given me much more in return. EPA organized multiple workshops and networking opportunities for interns. I learned how to apply for federal jobs, how to present briefings, interviewing techniques, and many other useful skills. Additionally, I attended meetings and conferences that I was interested in. I was also able to talk to employees of diverse backgrounds and was exposed to many career possibilities.

I strongly encourage any students interested in environmental studies, and its national application, to consider an internship here at EPA. I believe that no other organization could have provided me with such a vast amount of environmental knowledge, networking links, and career guidance.

About the author: Danielle Nichols is a rising senior at William Paterson University majoring in environmental science with an honors concentration in life science and environmental ethics and a minor in political science.  Outside of academic work, she enjoys organizing several environmental campaigns on campus.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Intern Experience

By Lacey Marsh

Growing up in Colorado is sure to turn anyone into an environmentalist. From the time I was a kid, I remember being concerned for the Earth. As I got older and began to understand just how much damage humans can do to the environment, I changed small habits in my life, like using reusable bottles and bags. I got my family to set up recycle bins in their homes! Although this was making an impact, it didn’t seem like enough. I went back to school to get a better understanding of the environment and ways to preserve it.

With my passion for protecting the environment, I was eager to accept the offer as a summer intern at EPA. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I wanted to absorb as much as possible. I was surprised to discover all the ways EPA works toward their mission of protecting human health and the environment. Apart from getting the message out to the public and advising people on what they can do to help preserve the earth, there is another side of the agency. From ensuring environmental laws are not violated to sending emergency responders to disaster areas, EPA plays a vital role in resolving environmental issues across the country.

I worked in the Office of Web Communications where I learned about public outreach, the processes to develop and run a website, and website analytics. I developed infographics that are being shared on the EPA’s Facebook page. I learned from other offices about their role in the agency’s mission.

Overall, I am satisfied with my intern experience at EPA. After receiving a steady paycheck for 7 years straight, the idea of not having an income for 2 months was unnerving. However, in my opinion the pros far outweighed the cons. I learned much more than I thought I would, both about myself and about being a professional. The intern workshops helped me to feel more confident about my resume, and the seminars helped me gain an interest in career paths that I had not even considered before. I am grateful for the opportunity to come and live in our nation’s capital and say that I was a part of an agency that strives to have a positive impact on the world (literally and figuratively). Unlike being paid hourly, I was in control of how much I gained in experience and knowledge, and that will last longer than any amount of money I have earned in previous jobs.

About the author: Lacey Marsh is an intern with the Office of Web Communications.  She will earn a second Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies in December 2013.  Lacey is a Colorado native who enjoys hiking the endless trails of the Rocky Mountains

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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My Experience as a Summer Intern at ENERGY STAR

Yohana Merho

By: Yohana Merho

For many college students summer is a time to take a well-deserved break from all-nighters, term papers and exam week stress, to go out and find something they are interested in. And if they are lucky, they may find something they could be passionate about as a career. I am a college student in my sophomore year at the University of Maryland, College Park studying Environmental Policy and Spanish. I am fortunate enough to really love my major, but I also know that I am not alone in that I am still unclear of how I want my education to translate in to my life post-grad. So, like most others in my position, I decided to take on an internship for the summer in hopes of learning about the many different roles and professions in the environmental sector that I might find appealing.

After several applications and emails I landed a sweet internship at ENERGY STAR. On my first day I was shown to my personal cubicle with my very own computer, phone and email. This whole ‘taking a sneak peak of the work force’ thing was beginning to feel a little like a reality now! Before I knew it I was going to meetings, working on assignments, doing research and feeling completely immersed in the ENERGY STAR work-culture.

One of my first and most interesting assignments was to prepare for a Congressional Expo that ENERGY STAR was to participate in. We were celebrating our 20th anniversary and my job was to make sure that our signs and posters reflected that through our statistics and general language. Soon after, I was told I was to work at the booth the day of the Expo, talking to other environmentalists about energy efficiency and other environmental issues. I was nervous, but very excited. I got to meet a lot of people, all working to better the environment through their individual professions, and I learned a lot from them.

My entire experience at ENERGY STAR has been a great learning experience. It was interesting to see and be a part of an entire office working independently as well as collectively to make a real difference in the fight against climate change. I had a chance to talk with several employees about their background and how they got to where they are now. I can say that I got exactly what I was hoping to get out of interning at EPA and much more. Who knows, maybe after I graduate I can help ENERGY STAR celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Yohana Merho is a college student in her sophomore year at the University of Maryland College Park. She is double majoring in Environmental Policy and Spanish and spent her 2012 summer interning at EPA’s ENERGY STAR.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Lisa Jackson, a hero to women everywhere

Interns with Lisa Jackson

By Karen Dante

While acutely aware of the green movement’s popularity within my generation, I can assure you that my decision to pursue a career in environmental protection is not a mere fad.

My career choices were determined even before I was born. I grew up in India where there were only two suitable careers for a man and a woman – either becoming a doctor or an engineer. Indeed, one of the most difficult experiences in my life was looking into my parents’ eyes and informing them that I would not be taking the MCATs but rather I wanted to work in the environmental science field, as a field researcher and someday, a climate policy analyst.

While this painful meeting marked a turning point in my life, my past two years in the environmental field have been filled with great adventures and learning experiences from conducting surveys of rare plant species to collecting data on the climate’s impact on plants to lobbying on the Hill for wildlife funding and now, to working as a Communications Fellow in EPA’s Climate Change Division.

Since my entry in the environmental field, my parents have not only been proud and supportive, but are actively engaged in the green movement from purchasing produce at the local farmers market to installing energy efficient light bulbs and products.

My decision to pursue a career that doesn’t fit standard expectations has been reinforced by the work and activism carried forth by environmental leaders such as Bill McKibben, Al Gore, and Juliet Eilperin. On Friday, July 27th, I had the honor of meeting yet another environmental leader and one of my role models – EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson.  

I’ve had the opportunity to hear Ms. Jackson speak in the past and have been blown away by not only her breadth of knowledge but also her passion for the environment and the American public. What most inspires me about Ms. Jackson is that she’s an African American woman holding the highest ranking position within EPA, and has a strong voice and leadership role outside EPA.

She has given me the courage to inspire other young women from underrepresented communities to pursue careers that don’t fit the status quo but are still vital to the well-being of the world. She’s a testament to all women that you can have a strong voice and be a leader in any field of your choosing.

Karen Dante is an ORISE Fellow supporting the communications team in the Climate Change Division within the Office of Air and Radiation. She holds a Bachelors of Science in biology and psychology from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Science and Policy at John’s Hopkins University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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