Starting My Internship
By Xamantha C.
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.