Getting Ready for My First Internship
By Corinna O.
This summer, I’ll intern at the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) in Tacoma, WA as an Industrial Hygiene Intern. L&I is responsible for the safety, health, and security of Washington’s workers. The diverse state agency helps employers meet safety and health standards and inspects workplaces for hazards. I will work with industrial hygienists and safety specialists, commonly known as Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs).
Earlier in the year, L&I representatives visited UW to give an information session and conduct interviews for intern positions. I was hesitant at first because it was my first interview for a position relating to my degree and I had no previous employment in occupational health and safety, but I decided to try for the opportunity anyway. The information session was very insightful and it made me feel better going into the interview because I felt more prepared after hearing about their mission and the qualities they look for in their employees. I was interviewed by two regional compliance managers from Regions 2 and 3. They noticed on my resume that I’m from Tacoma, which is part of Region 3, and the regional manager said that there might be a position for me at the Tacoma office. I was so surprised and happy, and after discussing further about my academic experience in industrial hygiene and my interest in the position, I felt more confident. A couple weeks after the interview, I got a call back and was told that the regional manager from Region 3 wanted me to come to the Tacoma office to do a meet and greet. I got hired and here I am! I’m looking forward to getting hands-on experience in occupational health and safety.
For 10 weeks, I will accompany CSHOs on field visits, assist with sampling, opening and closing conferences, conducting employee interviews, evaluating of ventilation systems, and noise monitoring. When in the office, I will make phone calls to follow up on abatement documentation and support CSHOs with technical research. I will also help maintain and calibrate sampling equipment, and place orders for sampling supplies and PPE, as needed. Finally, I will also accompany safety CSHOs to construction sites in order to understand the safety side of their business.
I am most excited about going out into the field and assisting with the inspections. I’m also excited, but more so, curious about the political aspects of compliance. I am both excited and nervous about working in a position relating to occupational health and safety. However, I believe that the coursework that I’ve taken at UW has given me the foundation and knowledge to do well.