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Different Types of Environmental Internships That Make a Difference

Mon, Oct 11, 2010

Internship Uncategorized

There’s no debating the importance of the right internship for your future career path. The job market is simply too competitive these days to rely on your degree alone to get you in the door at the right company. Unemployment rates are still very high, meaning there are a lot of highly qualified individuals out there willing to take a step back and apply for an entry level position. You’ll bring energy to the table but they will bring experience, and many employers will go that route because it cuts down on the amount of time they will have to spend training. If your goal is to work in a corporation or a non-profit organization that deals with environmental issues that may be less important, as these groups always need an inspired influx of people to combat the financial might of their competition. But if you apply after successfully completing an internship, with a glowing recommendation in hand you’ll greatly increase the chance of landing a more prominent role in the organization right out of college. The experience you seek through an internship should match your career goals, so consider finding any one of these environmental internships that will make a real difference.

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To simplify things you might want to consider applying based on the size of the environmental organization you feel is the right fit. There are many start-ups out there that just recently achieved 501(c)3 status and need a ton of help. In those cases, you can probably volunteer to do just about anything. But in these small environmental companies you’ll probably wear a lot of hats. If you are computer savvy they may ask you to set up newsletters, coordinate databases or create their website. If you’re more of a people person you might be manning the phones and trying to drum up fiscal sponsorship. In a very small company you will have the opportunity to really make a difference in the future of the enterprise. But the difference you will make overall for the environment may be fairly limited.

Many environmental companies could be considered mid-sized. These companies have been around for quite a few years and are fairly well established. Your role as an intern here would be far different. You’d be part of a team, a small group working together on national initiatives. You might contribute to a blog or write letters to governmental leaders. You could canvass the community, attend protests or help organize meetings. In many instances you’ll spend your time researching new legislation or acting as a corporate watchdog. You’ll be able to impact the environment on a larger scale, and you’ll learn from people who have been doing it for quite a long time. This is a great spot for you if you see a life of activism in your future and want to create relationships with some major players in environmental action.

You shouldn’t forget to explore opportunities at the corporate level, however. Many organic or natural food companies, energy companies and educational institutions offer internships that are environmentally focused. In these cases you’ll most likely join an extensive team, in a organization with international reach. The budgets will be much higher, as will the stakes. You might join the social media team, trying to promote responsible energy use or market environmentally sustainable product lines. You could bring programming skills to the table and help design mobile apps. You could even do research for pending legal cases, which would be great experience before starting some environmental law programs back at school. Your imprint may be smaller, but there will be so many moving parts to learn from you’ll be surprised what could come out of it. This would be a great choice if you hope to work inside of a larger business or institution, and the experience will be hugely beneficial when you start interviewing after graduation.

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