Dear EarthTalk: I understand that there are many internships available at environmental organizations, some involving working outdoors, some year-round with expenses paid. Where do I find these?
— Jason Baar, Los Angeles
Internships can provide professional experience and on-the-job training for individuals looking to enter the environmental field. There are numerous opportunities and the key is to know where to look. Many businesses, non-profits and governmental organizations offer internships that are environmentally focused and can range from office work in many different departments to working outdoors, some year-round and some short term. Compensation also varies significantly and can range from unpaid (but earning college credit) to salaried and/or all-expenses-paid.
A good place to start is the Student Conservation Association (SCA), which places over 2,000 interns a year and focuses on expense paid year round internships, many of which are outdoors. They partner with public and private organizations along with federal agencies and prescreen applicants to create a national pool of candidates for organizations to select from to bring in for interviews. Internships through SCA can offer anywhere from $75-$300 per week in living expenses, plus housing, travel and medical costs. In addition, an Americorps education award may be available to interns at the completion of their internship.
The Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) is also a well known resource for finding internships for bachelors, masters and doctoral students and recent graduates. This program partners with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and through paid internships has turned out professionals in the environmental field for over 30 years. ECO selects 500 associates each year for 12-week to two-year internships. Sponsoring organizations offer internships in research and training programs in addition to office, laboratory and field work assignments. Associates earn between $400 and $800 per week and may also be compensated for relocation costs, housing, travel, and career development.
A few other places to look are EcoEmploy and Internmatch. EcoEmploy is a database of hundreds of non-profits, governmental agencies and companies whose work is in the environmental field. This comprehensive list, organized by state, offers a way to find organizations that may offer jobs or internships. Internmatch posts internships in several categories throughout the country and has a section dedicated to environmental internships. They range from summer to year round and paid to non-paid.
In addition to these resources, environmental departments within universities often post internship opportunities for students as well as other tips for finding and researching potential internships.
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