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Internships: Find Your Passion

On October 20, 2016

Internships: Find Your Passion 

My name is Christopher Hamilton, I am a senior here at Plymouth, and I was lucky to have interned this past summer with the Utah Department of Natural Resources. I would like to reach out to the Plymouth State University student body, and talk about the importance of interning during your college career. Often, students

will find themselves wondering what they want to do as a profession after they graduate. One of the best ways for students to get a better idea is through interning. I recommend his to all students with a degree direction. Not only does interning give you work experience in your field, but it also gives you an idea of whether or not a job is right for you.

The single most important thing for students graduating with their bachelor’s degree is experience. Tens of thousands of students are graduating with bachelor’s degrees, some of which might have the same major as you. This is where the importance of experience comes in. If a student has a bachelor’s degree with a high GPA, but not a professional resume, the employer will be much more likely to higher someone with experience even if their GPA is lower. This is why I stress that, while grades are important, they are not everything. Employers want to see what you’ve done, not what you can do.

The great thing about internships is that employers open these positions to students who want to gain experience in a specific field. This is where your GPA comes into play, so make sure that it is strong, as it will be put up against others in the interview process. Having letters of recommendation is also crucial to add to your application, as they describe you as a student, your abilities, and your work ethic. Many may ask their academic advisors or professors for these. An important factor in obtaining a good letter of recommendation is to try and take classes with the same professors, as they will get to know you better as a student, and will be able to write an informative letter on who you are as a student. Having a good letter of recommendation is just as important as a good GPA. With a report of your GPA, a letter of recommendation, and a cover letter, you will have all you will need to be hired. Be sure to apply to a few places of interest, as all may not hire you. If you are not hired at all, stay determined, and keep applying.

To speak more on the position that I received; I was lucky to receive two job offers. One was focused on solar energy in Long Island NY, and the other one was with the Department of Natural Resources in Utah. I chose to work in Utah because I was guaranteed housing and was paid a livable salary. Not all internships are paid because it is more for the experience; so do not let money get in the way of experience. However if you have the option, taking a paid internship can be very beneficial as well. I chose this because it had a combination of decent pay, and great experience.

The main focus of my division in the DNR, was to stop the spreading of the Quagga mussel, which is a non native invasive species, that is decimating the water quality of Lake Powell and disrupting the aquatic food chain. We used many different tactics to stop the spreading of these to other Utah lakes. This included; data analysis, monitoring, sampling, inspections, and boat decontaminations. This has fared well, as no other lakes in Utah have been infested since Lake Powell was first infested in 2013, so the work shows success.

The DNR actively seeks new technicians every year, and I highly recommend this for students pursuing a degree in environmental science or biology. As a result of this experience, I have been able to be employed by others in my field since the internship. With my gained experience, I have been promised a job when I graduate, which is not something every student has the opportunity to have. That is why I encourage all students, if you have an idea of what you want to do, to pursue internships, because they will help you out for your career path, and give you a better idea if the profession you wish to seek is a good fit for you. 

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