Monthly Archives: July 2019

All About my NEPHIP Internship

All About my NEPHIP Internship

Bu Suhani P.

This summer I will be interning for 10 weeks at the Portage County Health Department in Ravenna, Ohio through the National Environmental Public Health Internship Program (NEPHIP). There will be four projects I will work on: dry weather storm water testing, pool water testing, a mosquito control program, and a harmful algae bloom prevention program.

In order to conduct dry weather storm water testing, I first need background on the test. My trainer explained to me the purpose and procedures of dry weather testing and then I shadowed her for a few days. In the mornings, I did additional background research on the Internet about the significance of storm water testing. To perform this test, one must be meticulous, organized, and perceptive in order to read GIS maps, identify outfall points, measure water quality, and record data. To conduct pool water testing, one must have strong communication skills to introduce themself and explain to pool managers the tests. While testing pool water for chlorine, alkalinity, and pH, one must be meticulous and detailed. There is a particular methodology to follow when conducting pool water testing that has to be memorized and practice.

In my first week, I was able to oversee multiple pool inspections and conduct pool water testing. The first time I independently tested pool water, I made sure to ask my supervisor detailed questions to ensure I was appropriately conducting the test. Practicing and asking questions is the best way to learn. The mosquito control programs includes setting up mosquito traps, counting the mosquitos, tracking the number of mosquitos in each area, identifying areas of concern, and working with other members on implementing control measures. Because the mosquito control program is fairly new, there are many ways to make the program more efficient and effective. Having good critical thinking, problem solving skills, and creative ideas can enable one to enhance the program. Additionally, being meticulous, organized, and efficient will help one effectively run the program.

It is my job to create a harmful algae bloom prevention program. Because I currently am not very knowledgable on harmful algae blooms, I will likely need to do a lot of research and require a lot of support and guidance from the aqua team in the department. In order to create and implement the program, I will need to be proficient on the topic and organized and have critical thinking, analysis, and project management skills.

Getting Ready for My NEPHIP Internship

Getting Ready for My NEPHIP Internship

By Juliet L.

My internship will be in Fairbanks, Alaska, at the Department of Environmental Conservation. I will mainly be working in the Food Safety and Sanitation program.  My work will include filing and distributing temporary food permits, as well as taking phone calls and answering questions for people who call in to the office. Temporary food permits are licenses that allow food vendors to sell to the public with more leniency than a regular permit (for example: distributors don’t need a food handlers card or a permanent establishment). These permits are used for booth-events, like fairs or festivals. I will also work on numerous projects related to the food safety field, like updating the priority list for establishment inspections. Finally, I will assist other departments for site inspections sites like wastewater or drinking water.

I am excited to learn how the environmental health field differs in an area I am not very familiar with. Alaska has a lot of spread out communities that are very hard to access and may be far from any major business hub. These characteristics play a large part in how the food safety office deals with inspection frequencies and risk assessments. I have learned a lot about food safety in the context of a major city like Seattle, so much of the information about Alaskan communities will be new to me. I am a little nervous about what type of work awaits me. I am remaining optimistic, however, and know that each task I am assigned as a learning experience. Everything I learn over these 10 weeks can only serve to help me once I go out into the work force.

A new house being built along the Chena River, outside of Fairbanks. This was during a wastewater inspection to determine that the septic tank/leach field system was set up properly. The T-setup of pipes at the bottom of the picture is set up incorrectly.

I got my internship through the National Environmental Health Association. I heard about it from a previous intern. She had told me how they have an internship program that you can apply to each summer. I started visiting Hayley to have her look over my resume and cover letter, as well as discuss essay prompts. Luckily, all the application materials were written, and there was no interview, which I felt made the application process feel easier compared to other internships.

Meet Our Interns: Scyler L.

I am doing my internship at the Environmental Health and Safety department at UW. I am mentored by a lab compliance specialist, and I will be surveying 500+ labs in 12 weeks. Going into the internship, I had very little prior experience in doing independent projects. Therefore, one thing I want to take away from the internship is how to manage my time, while doing everything to the best of my ability (i.e. balancing between quality and quantity).

12 weeks is such a short time frame, and so I will have to really plan out what I am doing. I will be compiling informations from two different online databases, and putting together schedules so I can email individual lab Principal Investigators (PIs) and chemical hygiene officers (CHOs). Then, I will work on looking for items to put in the gift bags that I will bring for my visit. Following that, I will visit the labs, and spend time on checking their safety signs, asking them questions about the new tool developed (labRAT: risk assessment tool), and explaining to them a contest that is going to take place in December. I will then enter the data collected in an excel sheet. Personally I think planning is a really important skill in my internship, being able to plan out everything and not leave anything out is critical yet challenging for me. Another thing I will remind myself during the lab visits is the 20 minutes may be a very short time in my 12 weeks of internship, but it might be the only time the PI and CHO are going to see me, so whatever I do will have a huge impact on them.

How I Got My Internship by Mariah

Before applying to my internships, I first had multiple people look over my documents I was submitting, mainly my resume and cover letter. I first went to my friends, then my parents, and Hayley to review and help clean up my documents. This really helped my application process.

I started my internship search in September, applying to many positions. I believe I applied to 8 in total. I ended up hearing back from four, two saying I did not get the position and two inviting me for interviews that eventually turned into offers. The internship that I am currently at, Ramboll Environ, actually was an internship for full time winter quarter. I learned that during my interview, and I mentioned to them that I would be willing to work part time during the school year then full time during the summer. They seemed to like that idea, and within two days they contacted me again for a follow up interview for the part time position. The following week I was contacted again saying I got the position, then a month later was given a contract to start part time spring quarter and full time in the summer.

One tip I would give to future students is to start applying early. Many companies take a while to hear back from, but it is nice to get your applications out of the way before midterms or finals take up a lot of your time. Another tip I would give is to apply to many positions and take any opportunity you can get to interview. I didn’t hear back from half of the places I applied to and got rejected from two more. Out of the two interviews I was offered, I decided to take both, as I wanted more interview practice. Interviewing with two organizations helped lessen the pressure and anxiety, and I liked the practice and opportunity of being interviewed by a large company.

How I Got My Internship by Sierra

Managing a job search was different than I thought in the sense that I found many different jobs but I was spent a lot of my time going through job descriptions to make sure that I was qualified. To stay organized, I created a spreadsheet to record when I applied and all of the important details that I didn’t want to forget. Doing this made managing my internship search easier.

The resources that I used were indeed.com and the list of internships on the department’s private website. These two places were where I did the majority of my internship searching. The weekly emails with current internship openings were very helpful as well. I ultimately found my internship from an email that Hayley, the Internship Manager, sent out with the attached forms to fill out for the position.

I didn’t expect to apply to as many internships as I eventually did. Some places I never heard back from, while others were very helpful in giving information about when I would hear back with their decisions. Doing a phone interview was not how I expected. They were very quick and mostly asked the same questions, as well as questions specific to the internship. One question that I would get very often was asking about how my course work in school was preparing me to do the duties that were outlined in the job description. Before each phone interview, I would look over their application description and qualifications. I would also make sure I was familiarized with the objectives of the company as a whole and their mission. I would have both in front of me while I was doing the interview, along with some possible question answers, just in case my mind drew a blank while on the phone. I would say a good tip is to try and take your time because I would get nervous and start talking quickly. To slow myself down or if I needed more time to think of an answer to a question, I would ask them to repeat their question or I would pause and take a deep breath to refocus my mind.

For future students, some things that may be helpful to know are to start applying earlier and know that there are many different internships out there and they will all become available at different times. I recommend going through your job searching resources regularly so that you don’t miss out on good opportunities because some hire interns quickly. I would highly recommend keeping a spreadsheet of the different places that you are intending to apply to and ones that you have already applied to.

Sierra observes a sewage system on a newly built single-family residence.

Overall, I had a positive experience with my internship search, and it prepared me for future searches and helped build my knowledge on what to expect with job interviews and application processes.