Wow! I started this internship slightly apprehensive mostly because I was not sure what to expect or what would be expected of me. I have always enjoyed the National Park system and was thrilled to have gotten an internship working at the gorgeous Muir Woods. I was already excited before I began about getting to call the old-growth redwood forest my work place.
I wanted to learn about the Park Service and about how to get better at interpretation. I also wanted to learn how to communicate better both with visitors and with my co-workers. This was met almost immediately. Since, the whole office had a warm, open vibe to it, I felt like I could easily voice my concern and also accept constructive criticism without feeling attacked. This was a huge personally step for me and has definitely changed my attitude towards people illustrating their opinions. At past jobs interacting with the public often felt like a chore and there was a lot of negative undertones when dealing with them. This job was completely different. Not only did I get to relearn positive mannerisms when dealing with visitors, but I also learned about the more confrontational matters, such as telling people to stay on the trial. I would often avoid confrontation in the past, however, due to the training and the help I have received I feel ready to be more assertive in situations that call for it. This is a huge professional and personal step for me. Also, I am a huge wildlife fan (really anything, birds, bugs, mammals-anything!) and working here has exposed me to scientists who are more hands on and helped me pick up valuable skills (such as bird banding, or proper identification of wildlife), which are bonus skills.
That being said, there are areas that I still need to work on. While my interaction with the public and people in general greatly approved, I feel like I am still weary around kids. Lately, I have asked for an increase in assignments that are directly related to kids so I can practice more on how to interact with them. This has been extremely beneficial and I have learned that if you ask, more than likely the kids will become engaged and find the answers for themselves.
I greatly benefited from this internship. Not only have I personally grown from this job, but I have found a new career path. I cannot imagine working inside now. Although I had a strong love for the parks before this internship, I never thought it would be a potential career path. However, now I don’t see how I could work anywhere else. I am in the process of job searching through the National Park Service or Fish and Wildlife. Hopefully soon, I will be accepted into a position and can continue growing and thriving as a ranger, biologist or in some other job.
Would I recommend this internship to other people? Yes, if you can afford to take the pay cut, apply! The skills you learn and the connections you make are invaluable. If you have ever had a love for the outdoors, just apply to one of the internships. You won’t regret it. If I do not find a job by the end of August I might apply for another internship just so I can keep building connections.