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Working for the Environment at the Highest Level

Olivia Termini

Olivia Termini '19, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Environmental studies major, classical studies minor.

Internship title:

Clinical legal intern for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

How I got this internship:

I got this internship by networking with Dickinson alumni, faculty, staff and parents. 

What I do, day to day:

There is never a similar day working as an intern for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I am in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance's Honors Law Clerk and Clinical Legal Education Program. This means, along with my placement, I attend National Enforcement Training Institute seminars and programming. Additionally, I am involved in the Federal Bar Association's Younger Lawyers Division Summer Law Clerk Program, which allows me access to different governmental agencies. The seminar series at EPA teaches us about different statutes and internal EPA affairs, and the Federal Bar Association's program brings us to other agencies to learn about potential jobs. My placement is in the Office of Compliance's Planning Measuring and Oversight Division. I am split between two branches—the National Planning and Measures Branch and the State Tribal Performance Branch. Both of the branches work with regional and state affairs that keep states accountable in their enforcement of certain environmental statutes.

Other internships:

Since 2015, I have worked at the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy during the school year. Last summer, I was the campaigns intern for Countable and the sustainability projects intern for Dickinson's Center for Sustainability Education. In the future, I would love to intern at the Hill, a large environmental nonprofit, like the EDF or NRDC, or an environmental lobbying firm.

Most valuable part of this experience:

The most valuable part of this internship has been meeting as many people who work here as possible. I have met people through the National Enforcement Training Institute Summer Series, the Federal Bar Association Program and the informational interview project that I began at the beginning of my internship. It is almost unbelievable how much I have learned in such a short period of time from the work I am involved in and the people I have met. I am also thoroughly enjoying the ability to get to know other federal agencies and our country's breathtaking capital.

Advice for students considering internships:

Don't just consider an internship; do one! It is absolutely the best way to build different skillsets, meet people and figure out what you do and do not like in the workplace. You would be surprised how much a job differs from the classroom environment. Secondly, ask and you shall receive. I am not kidding. The minute you put out in the open what your goals and aspirations are, people want to help you get there. All you need is the right person in the right space at the right time, or someone that knows someone else to put you on the stepping stone to achieving your dreams. Lastly, start small and dream big. It takes a little bit of time to get to where you want to go. So consider taking an internship that is tangentially related to what you think you want to do. You never know; it could be something you end up loving (or hating). Otherwise, it could be the path to an internship in a far-off governmental agency that you study in all of your classes (cough cough, the United States Environmental Protection Agency).

How this internship has helped me:

This internship has given me a bird’s eye view into how governmental agencies work, the environmental statutes that the United States enforces and overall skillsets of people working for the environment at the governmental level. I have learned what is like to live in the city, commute to work on the Metro and work a 40-hour week. Working at the EPA has given me a different perspective and hands-on knowledge that I can apply to my coursework and future pursuit of a career. Because of this internship, I could definitely see myself working in Washington someday, working for a mission like EPA’s.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I plan to attend law school with an environmental focus and pursue a job as an environmental lawyer or lobbyist.

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Published August 21, 2017