Monthly Archives: August 2017

Nathan: My Role as an IH Intern

My Role as an IH Intern

By Nathan P.

Nathan at his work station at CertainTeed Gypsum

For my internship, I went to CertainTeed Gypsum, a drywall manufacturing facility located in South Seattle. I got this internship opportunity through a personal connect: my dad mentioned to his supervisor that I had to do an internship for the Environmental Health program, and at the time the Safety Engineer was completely overloaded with safety projects. CertainTeed Gypsum invited me to come on as a safety intern to help ease the load and improve the safety conditions in the plant.

My mentors are the plant’s safety engineer and safety lead.  Although his title is “Safety Engineer,” my mentor’s role is really more of a “Safety Manager. ” In essence, the Safety Manager oversees all the safety operations occurring in the plant and is in charge of handling accidents in the workplace, creating new safety protocols, and organizing meetings with workers to address safety concerns. The role of the Safety Lead”is to ensure that the plant is in compliance with all of OSHA’s regulations.  The Safety Lead does safety trainings with new workers and tries to find the most efficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that fits with not only OSHA’s regulations, but corporate’s safety decisions as well.

My role as a safety intern is risk identification and management regarding the chemical products used in the plant.  There are over 200 different chemicals used in the maintenance of all the machines and mobile equipment.  I will be going around areas of the plant and recording the name of each chemical product, its manufacturer, and the amount on site.  Afterwards, I will go onto their Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) database and determine if the SDS for the product is up to date. If it is not, then I would have to submit a chemical request form as well as the most recent SDS for the product to the safety and environmental departments in order for the most recent SDS to be uploaded onto the database.  For each product, I then make a one-page simplified version of the SDS that contains information most relevant to the workers: name of the product, health hazards, first-aid measures, appropriate storage, accidental spill protocol, and PPE required for handling the product.  I will also create PPE visual aids for the chemical products in each area so that workers don’t have to refer to simplified SDSs but instead look at a poster that gives hazard pictograms of each product and the appropriate PPE to wear.

What most excites me about this internship is the opportunity to observe environmental health and safety practices outside the classroom.  Usually in classes, people generally have the same attitudes when it comes to safety but in the real-world not everyone has a safety mindset.  Most people I think are more concerned with doing their job and doing it well, and don’t take kindly to all the safety “obstacles” that hinder their day.  I think it will be interesting to be part of the interplay between the management officials who are concerned with safety and enforce safety measures, and the workers who want to get the job done as efficiently as possible.  Of course I’m nervous, too.  This is my first time working a full-time job (or any job for that matter) and I will be working with people I haven’t met before. Personally, I hope to integrate into this work culture as smoothly as possible.

 

Meet Our Interns: Nick M.

About My Internship at Washington State Department of Health

By Nick M.

My internship for the summer is at the Food and Shellfish Bacteriology Laboratory at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Public Health Laboratories. I was brought on to help with the Vibrio Project that goes on during the summer months. The researchers are monitoring the levels of the bacterium Vibrio Parahaemolyticus in commercial oysters during this time because pathogenic organisms grow well in the warm summer months and have the potential to cause illness when consumed raw.

Nick collecting oysters out on a commercial growing site

I was worried about finding an internship for summer, and after a couple months of delayed applications I grew more and more concerned. Luckily, with some help and advice, I was able to land my position for the summer at DOH and was quite excited -if not a little bit nervous- for when I started there. The main lesson I learned from my application process was to apply to everything that you would reasonably be able to do and to get started on your application materials like your resume and cover letters early so as to expedite the application processes.

From what I have experienced so far at the lab, I can already tell that this will be an extremely beneficial and impactful experience for me. This is especially true because I do not know exactly what I would like to pursue after graduation, and being in an environment in my field with people from all different backgrounds is a great learning opportunity for me. Most everyone I have talked to is very willing and eager to answer my questions, tell me about their own careers and interests, as well as listen to my own input and stories. All of my coworkers and leads have been tremendously helpful as I learn how to work in the lab. I have found that I am learning a lot about new techniques and processes that I did not know about before, but I am also relying on information I have learned in classes, which has proven to be extremely helpful.

Katie S: Skills Gained and Values Learned – An Intern’s Introspection

Skills Gained and Values Learned – An Intern’s Introspection

By Katie S.

This summer I completed an internship with Public Health – Seattle & King County within their Communication’s division. I know. It’s a mouthful. But, as I leave this organization and these wonderful group of people, everyone keeps asking: What’s next? The short answer: I don’t know and that’s okay. This internship may not have given me an epiphany as to what I want my future career to be, but it helped me better understand how I function in a workplace and some values that are important to me at this stage in my career.

Katie S. at her summer internship.

 

Skills Gained

Throughout school, I have pushed myself and developed skills that helped me be successful in my internship, like time-management, organization, prioritization of tasks, written communication, etc. These are skills I have developed over years and am still continuing to work on them. I always thought they were a necessity to have in school and didn’t think anything more of them; I used these skills to succeed. What I found out through my internship is that I thoroughly enjoy having multiple projects on my desk. I love having variety in my work and being responsible for multiple things. This is one way in which I try to push myself and be able to get involved in a variety of projects.

Values Learned

Though the exposure to my coworkers and their dynamics, I identified some workplace dynamics I would like to find in future workplaces. Everyone in Communications is committed to the relationships built within their group, which then strengthens their work as a team. All of them are very open to improvements, and they trust each other to develop and grow. I think this is the type of work environment that I would want to be a part of one day. I would love to work with some of my closest friends and develop positive relationship with my coworkers.

An example of one of Katie’s internship projects, a heat safety comic book.

Career Epiphany or Ongoing Process?

Figuring out my potential career is an ongoing process. It will change as i grow and learn more about myself. In my internship, I definitely gained respect for the Public Information Officers in Public Health, and now I think I want my future work to be more community-focused and interactive. At this point, I’m not exactly sure what my future will look like, but if I stay true to myself and continue to grow, I’m confident that I will figure it out.

I am very glad I took this internship with Public Health – Seattle & King County. I developed many skills and created relationships with many people who are supportive and see a bright future for me. I am grateful to have a supervisor who was so focused on my professional development and who wanted to make my summer memorable, which she did. Now, I leave my internship with more insight into my future career and I gained skills and experiences that will help me launch forwards.

Meet Our Intern: Nathan P.

All About My Safety Internship

By Nathan P.

My internship is at a company called CertainTeed Gypsum, which is a drywall manufacturing facility on the Duwamish River in Georgetown, Seattle.  I work with the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) section.  My supervisor has many safety projects to manage, and he gave me one of them to complete.  The project I am in charge of is to identify the hazardous chemicals used around the facility, update their safety data sheet (SDS) database, and create simplified visuals to inform the employees of the health risks of using these chemicals as well as the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear when handling them.  In addition, my goal is to search for appropriate alternative chemicals to replace the ones that are known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reprotoxic, or CMR for short.  Besides my own project, I also assist other branches of the facility for tasks such as data entry or constructing a presentation board.  In addition, I created a presentation board to demonstrate my project and its findings to the vice president of the North American branch of CertainTeed Gypsum.

Nathan in front of the warehouse.

For the most part I work independently on my project.  On the one hand, working alone gives me free reign as to how I want to approach this project and how I want everything to look.  On the other hand, I need a certain level of creativity since I am starting this project from scratch with essentially no template or guideline to work from.  I also need to have enough self-discipline to keep me focused on my project and complete it on time, a skill that I have struggled to hone for my whole life.  Of course, it is never too late to learn, and I think that I am improving compared to when I first started.

Even though I work by myself, I’m never afraid to ask questions when they arise.  This is my first time working at a manufacturing facility, so on top of understanding all the safety precautions that are implemented here, I need to learn what kind of work an EHS manager does.  Fortunately, my supervisor is very generous and never hesitates to answer all my questions to the best of his ability, from how drywall is made to how he entered the field.  He is also very supportive of the decisions I make for this project and offers helpful advice when I am lost.  Since this is my first time working full-time, I have learned to adapt to this new schedule, but both my supervisor and my friends have been very supportive as I’ve joined the working world.  If I am to be completely honest, I would not have made it this far without them.

Meet Our Interns: Ikwon J.

My Industrial Hygiene Internship

By Ikwon J.

When Spring Quarter 2017 started, I was very worried about finding an internship. Because the Environmental and Occupational Health Science program requires a 400-hr internship to graduate, I had to find a position for Summer Quarter. Moreover, I did not have any experience with job applications or work in the past, so the process of getting an internship felt very hard. However, Career Services in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences helped me a lot with finishing every step to obtain an internship. Although I was frustrated and struggled at times with the process, I soon received an offer for an internship position with the City of Seattle. As an Industrial Hygiene Intern, I assist a Certified Industrial Hygienist in the Seattle Department of Human Resources to oversee city-wide safety, and ensure the health and safety of workers of the City of Seattle.

Ikwon at the City of Seattle

Tasks that I perform as an Industrial Hygienist Intern include sampling to protect worker’s health and wellness. The most common kinds of sampling are indoor air quality, dust or silica sampling, and noise monitoring. Many different departments of the City of Seattle request sampling based on their concerns about wellness and health. For example, the Seattle Department of Transportation requests dust sampling for their field workers. The Seattle Fire Department requests noise sampling for their employees in the Fire Alarm Center. Sometimes, the intern performs ergonomic evaluations for office workers in City of Seattle. These are the tasks that I have been doing for the first three weeks of the internship. I am truly interested in these projects, and I am enjoying the internship.

Also, I feel very lucky because I was able to get this internship with the City of Seattle. Actually, when I received information about the internship, the deadline was very close. I had only one day to prepare for the internship application. Moreover, the internship required two references from applicants. I hesitated to apply due to lack of time to prepare documents for the application and ask my references. However, I decided to apply the internship, and now I’m glad I did.

My lesson from this experience is that every chance is worthwhile and valuable. Even when faced with an obstacle like a short application time, it is worthwhile to try anyway. No one knows where the opportunity I have now will lead. We cannot know the future and our predictions do not always come true.

Annika J: About My Sustainability Internship

About My Internship

By: Annika J.

Helping out one of my supervisors at UW Earth Day

There are multiple projects that I am involved with the at my internship at the UW Sustainability office. One of my main projects is helping to create the updated dash board on the UW Sustainability website. This project requires networking and data analysis which was difficult in the beginning of the internship. However, I have now developed enough skills to work on it by myself and even create instructions for the next person who will work on this project.

I’ve discovered that in order to make this project possible you really need patience. For example, not everyone you contact will reply with an immediate answer about your data and sometimes it can take several weeks before you get an answer. The data that you will need to analyze can be a confusing puzzle but with time and patience you will be able to understand the assignment that is given to you. With this ongoing project my supervisors and my advisers provided more than enough support for me to work hard and keep streamlining my project and improving my work ethics and goals. If I ever had troubles contacting people for the project my supervisor would step in and email/call my contact to streamline my project. I consider the dashboard project my main project since I have been working on it relentlessly for the past months. I have learned the environmental impact we have as a campus on the earth and how it can lead to different health conflicts.

One of my favorite ongoing projects is the preparation for the Sustainability Festival. During Dawg Daze, the UW Sustainability branch begins advertising for the Sustainability Festival that will occur in mid-October. My supervisor and I are currently contacting different exhibitors to see what they can bring to the table for our festival. Planning these events require me to be detail-oriented and they can sometimes be stressful, but I love reaching out to new exhibitors to see what they are doing that is both environmentally conscious and helpful to our health.

Meet Our Interns: Katie S.

 

4 Tips to Make Your Internship Unforgettable

By Katie S.

Katie at her internship at Public Health – Seattle & King County

Internships can feel slightly overwhelming. I came into my internship wanting an unforgettable experience, but I wasn’t quite sure how. When I started my internship, I was intimidated because I was entering a new environment with little experience and trying to immerse myself in a culture that I was unfamiliar with. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the first days of an internship, but these tips helped me turn this into an unforgettable summer.

Tip 1: Find a Way to Put Your Own Passions into Your Internship

When I started this internship, my supervisor asked what I was interested in as it pertains to public health. I shared with her the things that interested me the most: climate change, emergency preparedness, and environmental health. I was lucky that my supervisor tried to incorporate my passions. If your mentor is open about the deliverables of your internship, try to find a way to incorporate things you are passionate about. I found that incorporating things that I love into my internship makes me go into work with more vigor and be more excited to see where the day will go.

Tip 2: Take Advantage of Opportunities to Socialize

Yes, you are in your internship to learn, but learning how to fit into the workplace environment is part of it. Not only will you get whatever the technical experience that is associated with your internship, but also develop the soft skills that are associated with it. Take the time to get to know your coworkers and spend time with them. If my coworkers go out to get coffee, I’ll go with them, no matter if I buy it or not. In addition to these skills, internships are also about building relationships.Taking the time to get to know your coworkers allows you to build that relationship so that you can start building your network and hopefully your references!

Tip 3: Work Hard, But Know Your Limits

Now, this may seem like a no brainer, but I feel like it has to be said. I am an avid believer that you get out what you put in. So, if you put effort into your internship, you’re probably going to have a greater experience than if you don’t. However, most of all, people notice when you put a lot of effort into something. It shows in the quality of work you put out and the attitudes you have approaching new projects. That being said, know your limits and what you can take on. If you have a full plate and you can’t fit extra tasks into your workload, just be honest. When someone overextends themselves, they can drop the ball on certain projects or do subpar work. It’s always a balancing act, which takes time and practice!

Tip 4: Have fun!

Sure, there are times when you need to put your head down and work, but internships, above all else, are learning experiences. If you stay positive and make work a fun place to be (while still being productive, of course), you will have a great time in your internship!