Tag Archives: undergraduate

Meet Our Interns: Jamie E.

How I Found My Out-of-State Internship

By Jamie E.

Jame E calibrating the pH meter and taking the pH of media being used for analyses.

When I began to look at internships for over the summer, I made sure to look for opportunities that not only explored my area of interest within environmental health, but also were close to my home in Hawaii.  Since leaving home to go to school on the mainland, I wanted to take the opportunity to become more familiar with the public health issues that are concerning communities in Hawaii, while also exploring my interest in environmental microbiology.  After thinking of where to begin my search for Hawaii internships, I decided to try searching through the State of Hawaii Department of Health website.

As I was exploring through the website I was so excited to see that there was a State Laboratories Division (SLD) on the island of Oahu, and that there was an Environmental Microbiology section.  Though I did not find internships listed, I emailed the supervisor of the Environmental Microbiology section inquiring if there were any undergraduate summer internships available.  I followed my internship advisor’s advice and had also looked at other internships in Washington, but in the back of my mind I knew that if there was an internship at the SLD that it would be my first choice.  I also knew that there was a slim chance of me having the opportunity to work specifically in my area of interest with communities back at home in Hawaii, but I still anxiously waited and hoped that there was a chance.  When I received a reply email, I was thrilled and incredibly grateful to find out that the SLD was willing to take me on as an intern for the summer.

My advice to future environmental health interns is to not be afraid to reach out to organizations conducting work in your area of interest, even if it may seem that there are no internship opportunities available.

State of Hawaii Department of Health State Laboratories Division

If I had not taken the initiative to ask about available internships, I would not have gained the abundance of knowledge and variety of experiences that I have had here at the SLD.  I also would not have been able to work with such a kind and supportive group of people that I did work with at the lab.  For these reasons and many more, I encourage future environmental health studies to take this risk, because it may lead to a truly unforgettable and enriching experience.

 

Meet Our Interns: Natalia

The Skills I Use In My Environmental Health Internship

By Natalia K.

This summer I will be working as an Environmental Health Technician at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health department. My internship is in the Department of Environmental Health, and within the subdivision of Food, Community, and Safety program. For this internship, I will be inspecting pools, spas, and spray parks in the Tacoma-Pierce County area. I will inspect each facility in my assigned area a total of two times during the duration of my internship.

Natalia conducting a pool inspection at her summer internship.

Inspecting pools may sound like an easy job, but it’s no walk in the park. Some skills that are required for this internship are as follows:

  1. Staying organized

This job requires a person who has great organization skills. At each pool inspection, a pool inspector uses an online database provided by the health department to produce a paper inspection report, which states the time and date of inspection, water quality data, and any necessary violations. During the inspection, you have to be able to keep track of certain violations that were found during the inspection. Inspection may be very long, so keeping notes on complicated violations help me complete detailed inspection reports for each pool facility.

  1. Background in chemistry

A strong background in chemistry is a required skill for this internship, especially experience with lab chemistry and good lab technique. At each pool inspection, a set of water quality tests is conducted, which involved many different reagents and chemicals. These tests must be done with precision and accuracy, since the data is important and has the potential to shut down or close a pool.

  1. Being able to learn from your mentors

During inspections there are always new situations that can bring up questions. Having the ability to learn from mistakes and take criticism well is required for this internship, as it helps an inspector to become the best health inspector they can be by learning from their mistakes!

  1. Great communication skills

I would say that good communication skills are the most important skill to this internship. When walking into a pool facility, you need the ability to locate the right person, and introduce yourself and present yourself in a professional manner. You must be confident in your knowledge about pools and be able to ask questions to maintenance staff or pool operators.

  1. Driving skills

My assigned area is a very large portion of Pierce County, which requires me to drive around between each facility to do inspections! Good driving skills and habits are required for this internship.

  1. Passion for public health and loving the outdoors!
  2. Support!

No one is a perfect inspector without practice and help from mentors! This internship required support from my supervisors who taught me what I needed to know about pool maintenance and water chemistry. They also took me out in the field with them to learn the proper way to conduct pool inspections, as well as how to operate the inspection report database which creates the inspection reports to be given to pool operators. My supervisors were also always on call and were available to answer questions if I ever needed help when I was out on my own in the field.

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 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: Xamantha C.

Starting My Internship

By Xamantha C.

Xamantha in front of the LA County Environmental Health Headquarters

My First Day

On June 14, 2017, I took my first step into LA County Environmental Health Headquarters. The office, at first, was as confusing as the Health Sciences library—a maze formed by endless cubicles and different rooms instead of winding hallways and classrooms. Overwhelmed by the amount of programs kept behind the large amount of cubicles, I didn’t know where to start when I was asked what programs I would be interested in shadowing, but I was excited!

My excitement stemmed from the opportunity to use my Environmental Health education outside of the classroom and to learn from the workforce. I was overjoyed to know that I would have the opportunity to shadow people from different programs. The idea was exciting yet nerve-wracking. What if I don’t actually like the programs I’m interested in? But that’s the beauty of it I guess. This internship will allow me to discover what I like and what I don’t like about Environmental Health because even as an incoming senior, I only had an idea. Now I would have the opportunity to explore my career goals and interests in a hands-on environment.

Internships give us the opportunity for us to find our niche within Environmental Health. If unsure of what you actually want to do within this vast field, internships that will expose you to the multiple areas of Environmental Health can be your first step on your journey to what you want to do in the future.

An Informational Interview

Though I was introduced to many people on my first day, there was one that really stood out to me. His name is R. On my first day, I had to go to HR to pick up my badge. I felt very grateful that R volunteered his time to drive me to Human Resources. I’m glad he did! His passion and excitement resonated with me. One of the many interesting things we talked about were our individual journeys into the field of Environmental Health. Like many people I know, R got into Environmental Health by accident/by coincidence. He started out as Pre-Pharm but ended up not finishing that route because of unforeseen circumstances. After some time, he was introduced to a job as a part of the Environmental Health Strike team, one of the first and only Environmental Health teams in the nation tasked to respond to Environmental Health emergencies and disasters! He came into it not knowing much about the field but after his training and after a few months of working, he realized he loved it. He said that if he could go back and start off in this field, he would.

His story further solidified that my choice to stay with Environmental Health was a great one. When I was a sophomore, I was searching for a major that would lead me not just to jobs, but to opportunities where I can actually love what I do. If there are people who can come into this field without prior knowledge and end up loving what they do, then I am in the right place. Environmental Health is an important field, and we should all be proud that we are a part of it! It is our job as future professionals in Environmental Health to advocate for this field and show its significance. Even as students, we must increase the field’s visibility so that in the future, people will have more understanding of and access to Environmental Health professions.

Meet Our Interns: Jueun

How Did You Prepare For Internship Interviews?

Intern: Jueun O.

In front of my new desk at WA L&I

Because English is my second language, the thought of an interview was very frightening and intimidating to me. The day before my interview I could not sleep at all and thought about ways to get out of my situation. Even up to the day of the interview, I felt very reluctant to open the door and enter the interview room out of fear. After two previous interviews at other organizations, I was very discouraged and worried that I would not be capable of fulfilling my internship. The Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences’s Internship and Career Services Manager, Hayley, supported me by encouraging me to continue applying and interviewing for internships. She helped me tremendously by giving me a few commonly asked questions and practicing my answers with me. I went to my third interview thinking it was my last opportunity and was even more nervous than before my previous interviews. However, the interview went on more positively than my previous interviews and I knew my practice helped! John, the Compliance Manager for the Department of Labor and Industries told me I could start my internship the following Monday. I was overcome with shock and happiness and (not trying to be dramatic but) I felt as if my dream came true.

What I want future environmental health students to learn from my experience is to not hesitate to ask your advisor for help because they are always excited to help you in any way they can.

I am going to participate in an internship program for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) industrial Hygiene for 10 weeks. I will assist Industrial Hygienists and watch what they do during opening and closing conferences, employee interviews, and sampling, identification, and evaluation of occupational hazards. I am looking forward to the many things I will learn and experience during my internship and experience at the work field.

Meet our 2017 Summer Interns!

Welcome to the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences’s Internship blog! Over the next few weeks we will feature several students within DEOHS who are completing internships in the field.

How Did You Get Your Internship?

Intern: Annika J.

Helping out one of my supervisors at UW Earth Day

This is actually quite a funny story.

I applied to a position as a Project Assistant at the UW Sustainability office in early Fall 2016. After a great interview, I was not selected for this position after another candidate outweighed me with their skills and experience. I personally thought I connected with my interviewer and thought the interview went very well, so I was disappointed to learn I did not get the job. After my interviewer told me that the position had been offered to another candidate, she told me to contact her in the future for any available position in her office.

Time went by and I started applying to different internships to fulfill my graduation requirement for my degree. I applied to about 2 internships a week and had some interview offers, but was looking for the right opportunity where I could fulfill my internship requirement at an organization that met my interests.

As summer approached, I started to get nervous. I wanted to have an internship settled before summer and I did not have any leads. I started to think about other places and ways I could find an internship. I remembered the UW Sustainability office and I decided to shoot an email to my interviewer from fall. Even if she turned me down for a position in her office the first round, I was not going to let my pride take away an opportunity that may lead to an internship.

I sent her a message and I patiently waited for her response.

She emailed me back the next day and she told me that she needed an Environmental Health Intern for her office. From my past interview with her, she said I was a perfect candidate for her intern position. So, I was selected for this exciting opportunity to be a UW Sustainability and Environmental Health Intern.

Completion of one part of the Dashboard Project for Green House Gas Health effects

This opportunity has taught me “don’t give up” and to “always stay persistent.” I may have been rejected once, but it didn’t mean that the interviewer didn’t like me as a candidate. The position I have now is actually a better fit for me than the position that I had applied for in early fall. Always email your supervisors for a follow up and do not be discouraged if you don’t get a position on the first round.

For future Environmental Health Undergraduate students, I strongly recommend you apply to as many positions as you can but also make sure that you will enjoy the internship as well. This internship is not only a graduation credit but it is also an opportunity for you to really explore your future career.