Kaylee LaChance '20 is spending her summer as an intern at the Environmental Protection Agency, gaining valuable experience for a career in environmental health and policy.
Internship title and location:
Office of Water OWOW (Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds) intern, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
How I got this internship:
I got this internship by going on the EPA website and browsing their available internships. I emailed my resume, cover letter and writing samples to my now-supervisor and received an email back from him requesting a letter of good academic standing from the college. From there, I worked with Amity Fox in the Center for Advising, Internships & Lifelong Career Development to obtain that letter and continue with my interviewing process. After a successful interview, I was fingerprinted and had my background cleared to start. The entire process took around two months from start to finish.
What I do, day to day:
My daily routine starts with reading the EPA morning news updates to get caught up on the happenings in each division and branch around the office. I always write down and research any terms that I don’t yet know to keep myself updated and informed. Then I attend my daily meetings with the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and 401 Certification workgroups, where I take notes and give updates on my projects. Currently, my project focus is on researching specific tools and datasets to assist in WOTUS jurisdictional implementation in the field. This will essentially help delineate which waters are federally protected under the Clean Water Act. I also meet weekly with other OW interns, where we are taught about the different aspects and inner workings of the EPA. In between meetings I work independently on my workgroup tasks or attend online webinars about environmental issues or research.
Prior to this internship I’ve held a couple of different internship positions. I worked as a farm crew intern with MEVO in Mahwah, New Jersey, in the summer of 2017. The following summer I worked as an aquarist intern with the Roundhouse Aquarium in Manhattan Beach, California. That summer I also interned as an office assistant for the co-founder of the Malibu Farmers Market in Malibu, California. This past spring semester I worked with the Carlisle Area School District as a LEED Intern, helping them navigate the process of LEED certification.
Most valuable part of this experience:
The most valuable part of this internship experience is absolutely the ability to reach out to coworkers and Dickinson alums to learn more. I have learned so much from meeting with all these diverse people here in Washington. I work with people from all different academic backgrounds, from public health to environmental law and so much more. The people who work here are so knowledgeable of their fields and are always open to answering my never-ending questions. It has been inspiring to hear each of their individual paths and passions as well as extremely helpful when thinking about what career path I would like to take in the future. It has been amazing to not only have people to discuss my passions with, but to walk away from each of those discussions having learned something new.
Advice for students considering internships:
I would advise my peers firstly to not get discouraged during the internship application process. In the end, you only need one acceptance out of the sea of applications you sent. Second, when applying and interviewing, show passion for the work. People get excited when you get excited, so show enthusiasm. Everyone appreciates a positive attitude. Finally, take an active approach to your internship experience. Set up coffee meetings, get phone numbers (and then actually call) or ask for extra projects. Do whatever you can, whenever you can to make yourself memorable. Your experience is only as successful as you make it. Always advocate for yourself.
How this internship has helped me:
This experience has better prepared me for my final year at Dickinson by solidifying my interest in water policy and public health. My coworkers gave me great advice on which classes to take that will boost my general knowledge base. They also gave me suggestions for potential graduate schools. My internship experience allowed me to feel generally more prepared for life after Dickinson. After commuting to my daily 9-to-5, living on my own in a new city and being treated with just as much respect as anyone else in my office, I feel much more qualified and confident in pursuing my passions.
I would love to eventually return to the EPA and create a career here for myself or just generally work in the realm of environmental health and policy. The mission of the EPA, to preserve and protect human and environmental health, is one I truly stand by and hope to contribute to. I want to use my years post-graduation to do my part in the fight against climate change so that the Dickinson class of 2100 can also pursue their dreams as I have done this summer.
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Published July 24, 2019