Internships in the Great Outdoors

Thu, Jun 21, 2012

Internship Information

While the term “outdoor interns” may sound more like an oxymoron than an actual path that students can pursue, there are a surprising number of internship opportunities for those that prefer to eschew the office building and get some work experience in a natural setting (one devoid of cubicles, at any rate). When most people think of internships, they imagine wearing business attire, fetching coffee for execs, answering phones, and basically learning how to perform in a professional setting. But what if you had the opportunity to get your hands dirty and soak up a little vitamin D while earning credit for class and an entry for your résumé? Although it can’t happen for every major study, there are several for which outdoor internships are an option. Here are just a few to consider.

The easiest option for internships that get you out of both the classroom and the office setting will center on outdoorsy careers. The first things that come to mind are park/forest rangers, marine biologists, geologists, and other professions that center on the natural world. Jobs in these fields come from both the private and the public sector, and believe it or not you may be able to find internships in either area. For organizations that operate on grants and donations, interns can be a great help because they are eager to learn, they have some background, and they needn’t be paid for their services. But government agencies also want to tap the brightest minds coming out of colleges, and considering how much federal land needs to be monitored and maintained, there may be many opportunities for governmental internships that occur in the great outdoors.

Of course, there are plenty of other fields that can offer internships to students seeking an alternative to fluorescent glare of an office interior. Are you studying veterinary medicine? Consider an internship with a wild animal rescue organization (many are locally founded and funded, so interns and volunteers help them to stay afloat). What if you prefer the company of plants? Both civil engineering and landscape architecture allow for work in the outdoor arena as they center on planning and creating public spaces. Archaeology students can also get a crack at outdoor internships. And of course, those interested in developing alternative forms of energy will find myriad options for internships that allow them to get out in the field (since that’s where most forms of sustainable energy exist).

Of course, some major studies won’t offer the prospect for an outdoor internship. If you’re studying internal combustion engines and learning how a transfer case works so that you can design automobiles, chances aren’t good that you’ll get out of the office much. Ditto on studying law, medicine, graphic design, and any number of other subjects. But you might be surprised to find that even industries unlikely to traffic in outdoor pursuits would have some opportunities if you go digging. So even if you’re a history major, you could get an internship exploring historic sites. Or if you happen to love tinkering with digital images, you could intern for a nature photographer. It is possible to pair up your love of nature with the career you’re working towards; you simply have to use your noggin and find a field where the two overlap so that you can arrange for an outdoor internship.

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