Tag Archives: internship

Darcy: How I Networked to Find My Out-of-State Internship

How I Networked to Find My Out-of-State Internship

By Darcy V.

My internship search process was a little different than my classmates’ because I was searching for an internship in San Diego. As a result, I couldn’t take advantage of the department’s internship postings as much as I could have if I were looking in Washington. When I first began my internship search, I was determined to find and land an internship on my own; I primarily used Indeed and LinkedIn to search for and apply to internships. I soon realized that neglecting to utilize my connections was naïve and inefficient. Once I decided the smartest approach to a job search was to utilize my connections, I began reaching out to people I knew within the environmental health and emergency management fields. The more people I talked to about my interest and goals, the more connections I began to make. Eventually, I connected with the Assistant Director of the county Office of Emergency Services (OES) through a contact I made through a previous job. After speaking to the Assistant Director of the county OES, they connected me with one of the Senior Emergency Services Coordinators who also handles students and interns. From here, the process was quite straight forward; I interviewed with the Assistant Director and the Internship Coordinator and then began the hiring process.

County of San Diego Emergency Operations Center (EOC) The EOC is activated during disasters and is the hub for coordination and communication with the field. When the EOC is not activated, it is used for meetings, trainings, and employee work spaces.

My biggest piece of advice for future students is to take advantage of every networking opportunity and utilize your connections. It can be difficult to stand out amongst other internship applicants, and a personal introduction from a connection can never hurt. In my case, the internship was not posted online, so the only way to know about it is to reach out to the office directly. I never would have known about the internship opportunities at OES without the guidance of the individuals I met through networking. I am so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and utilized networking to find my internship!

Meet Our Interns: Deanna L.

First Impressions from Day One

By Deanna L.

My first day at Amazon was a great learning and hands-on experience. What strikes me the most about my workplace is how fast-paced everything is here. I work at an Amazon Fulfillment center as an EHS intern and there is always something to do. As this is a warehouse facility, there are many safety measures to take to make sure each and every employee is working safely. Before taking on this role, I didn’t realize how hands-on the Safety Team is and how much safety is held as a priority.

One of the first things I noticed about my colleagues is the diversity of my coworkers’ backgrounds. Some members of the Safety Team have Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) backgrounds, while others have Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) backgrounds. They all came from different EHS educational backgrounds; some worked outside of Amazon, and some worked exclusively at Amazon. Needless to say, there is a lot of experience between the members of the Safety Team and each individual has their own unique perspective on safety incidences. One thing that I learned since becoming an intern is to take advantage of my network. I have worked to build lasting relationships with my co-workers that I can carry on post-internship. With these connections, I hope that in the future I can ask for references or advice regarding the EHS field.

The work of an EHS intern is very fast-paced and detailed. Each day, there are a series of audits to complete per OSHA requirements. When completing these audits, it is important to be detail-oriented so that you do not miss any safety hazards. Additionally, there are a multitude of tasks to complete each day. This can range anywhere from attending meetings, filling out (Job Safety Assessments) JSA’s, or reporting incident investigations. There is always something that needs to be done at the office, so it is important to come prepared to work.

What I am most excited about for my internship is to see how I have grown over time. This includes seeing how my knowledge has advanced as well as my professional relationships. I hope to successfully complete my project, challenge myself to grow my professional skills, and do my absolute best while at Amazon.

Meet Our Interns: Rico G.

First Impressions from Day One

By Rico G.

My internship location is in Port Angeles, WA and I will be doing most of my work from the Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services. The building I’m in is located less than a mile from the beach and is surrounded by tall mountains and heavily wooded areas. My first day began with a 4 minute drive down to the work site and a meeting with my supervisor. My supervisor is the Environmental Health Director for all of Clallam County. They set me up with an office which serves as a great space for me to write blogs about my internship.

For my first day, I tagged along with my colleague for some basic water sampling. This was a fun experience because we were able to take a short walk down to the beach and get into the water to take samples from multiple sites. I was also able to explore the lab on-site, where water testing is performed and inoculated samples are tested for contamination. It was nice to apply the skills I learned in university in an actual job setting. The rest of my day was spent doing online training for HR.

So far the best thing I like about my workplace is the setting. The people here are relaxed and friendly but are also very skilled and knowledgeable. My location has a very small permanent population so the town itself isn’t much larger than UW campus.  Port Angeles is within walking distance of Olympic National Forest, so there are many thriving businesses and amenities available for the tourists that come through every year.

I’m most excited to be doing work around the beautiful forest itself. The services my colleagues and I will perform will send us across the almost 3,000 sq. miles of Clallam County. I am also excited to learn more about our role in helping the county function as a healthy entity.

Meet Our Interns: Antonia R.

Being an Intern at a Local Health Department

By Antonia R.

This summer, I am interning at St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMHD), in Maryland. I am one of the National Environmental Health Association interns and in my application, I talked about the importance of water quality in a community, focusing on arsenic in drinking water. Throughout my internship, I will work on what is known as the “Arsenic Project.” I will also have the opportunity to shadow various members of the Health Department.

For the first part of the project, I will work with ArcGIS, a mapping program, to map out arsenic levels throughout the county. St. Mary’s County is mostly rural and most of its inhabitants obtain their water from private wells. The SMHD must take water samples from any new or restored wells and then test for bacteria, nitrate, turbidity, and arsenic levels. Upon completion of the tests, the Environmental Health Department may grant the water a Certificate of Potability. In my project, I will use the data collected throughout the years via such testing, and then apply it on a map of the county. Then I will use a gradient to indicate the level of arsenic in response to the Maximum Contaminant Level discovered at a specific location.

Antonia at her desk.

The project has two main goals: to develop a model that shows arsenic levels against soil elevation and to identify hotspots of arsenic concentration to improve resource allocation from the Health Department. To achieve the goals, I will collaborate with St. Mary’s County IT support team to learn about ArcGIS in more detail and to develop the elevation map that I need, as well as meet with the Health Department’s epidemiologist to develop the algorithm that will model the high arsenic hotspots. This is a relatively new technology for SMHD, therefore I need the professional help of the IT department.

In addition to the main goals, we intend to educate home-owners about the effects of high arsenic concentration in drinking water and about arsenic removal methods. My mentor and I decided to modify existing documents for homeowners to make them more persuasive to the public. In this part of the project, I will apply my written communication skills in relation to the risk perception of the home owners and of the people living throughout the county.

This project is a great opportunity to apply a multi-faceted approach to solving the problem of arsenic in the county drinking water. We hope that we will be able to identify an efficient manner to allocate resources and to reach the community so that they will collaborate with the Health Department in addressing the treatment of their water.

Meet Our Interns: Ana S.

My Experience With Applying to a National Internship Program

By Ana S.

This summer, I’m moving to Colorado to work with El Paso County Public Health through a program called NEPHIP. When you’re on your hunt for a summer internship, I highly recommend that you apply for NEPHIP. This program is administered by the National Environmental Health Association, and funded by the CDC, so it’s specifically catered towards environmental health students. That being said, if you participate in this program you’ll most likely be moving to a completely new location for the summer. If that seems exciting to you, like it did to me, you should definitely continue reading.

To apply to this program, you’ll have to write and submit two short essays, a resume, and one letter of recommendation from an academic faculty member; that’s it! Notice how I didn’t include anything about an interview… that’s because there isn’t one. So if you absolutely dread the interview process, start jumping for joy!

Ana during her inspection of the Olympic Training Center.

Once you’ve applied, you’ll have to wait until spring to hear from the program. The wait was one of the most difficult parts for me. For about a month I was frantically refreshing my email whenever I got the chance. It wasn’t until the end of March that I finally heard from NEPHIP. A wave of relief and excitement washed over me as I read my acceptance offer. Then the nerves set in. Where would I be going? What would I be doing? I had so many questions left unanswered from the initial letter, and unfortunately, none of them could be answered until I accepted.

Seems a little scary, right? I had to accept my offer before I even knew where I would be going. I couldn’t just say, “Put me in warm, sunny, California please!” and expect to get my wish. I was, admittedly, pretty nervous. But I couldn’t let my nerves hold me back from such an amazing opportunity. So, after consulting with my most trusted advisor (thanks mom), I accepted. And then… I waited. 2 weeks later I found out I was going to Colorado Springs to work for El Paso County Public Health.

I’ve been here for a week now, where my primary focus is vector borne and zoonotic disease prevention. But as the summer progresses, I will also have the opportunity to work with staff from many departments in the agency. So far, I’ve had an amazing time getting to know my peers. It’s also been great to step out of my comfort zone and experience a new place! And, looking back, even though there were so many unknowns that came with my internship acceptance, I don’t regret accepting for a minute. Which brings me to my biggest piece of advice for other students: while some of the internship application process may feel overwhelming or scary (whether it’s with NEPHIP or not), don’t let that deter you from a summer full of adventure. After all, what is life without a little adventure, right?

Meet Our Interns: Jamila F.

Getting Ready for My Internship

By Jamila F.

This summer, my internship is at the Snohomish Health District in Everett, Washington. A majority of my internship will be spent with the Food Safety Program, but I will also be cross-training with other Snohomish Health District programs (Safe Environment, Tuberculosis Control, Maternal Child Health, Land Use, and more). This was the 10th internship I applied to, and I am excited to start!

My internship project with the Food Safety Program will revolve around non-continuous cooking, which is a cooking process for raw animal meat. In this process, the meat is intentionally stopped within 60 minutes of initial heating and then is cooled and held for complete cooking at a later time (usually before sale or service. Since the Washington State Food Code requires food establishments to have a written procedure of all food preparation processes that utilize non-continuous cooking, I will assist the Food Safety Program with the new tool they developed for foodservice establishments that guides these facilities in creating a written procedure for proper cold-holding and re-cooking of raw animal meat.

Jamila in her cubicle at Snohomish Health District.

I am most excited about training with the other Environmental Health Specialists and exploring different parts of Snohomish County, especially in my hometown: Marysville. In addition, I look forward to cross-training with the programs outside of the Environmental Health Division. On the other hand, I am a little nervous about being on the field to conduct food inspections for temporary food events (as opposed to observing inspections) and being on my own when I assist facilities in writing their non-continuous cooking procedure. However, I have shadowed one of the Environmental Health Specialists prior to this internship for an assignment for my Food Protection class. I am sure that training with the other Environmental Health Specialists will help me be more comfortable with the inspection process and educating food operators on food safety.

Meet Our Interns: Darcy V.

First Impressions of My Summer Internship

By Darcy

My first impressions about my internship at Marine Group Boat Works is that it is small, family-run, and everyone is very close-knit. I also immediately recognized their commitment to environmental sustainability and I am already very impressed with their numerous green initiatives. I did not think that a shipyard would have particularly sustainable practices, but I quickly learned that I was very wrong. The environment is a top priority to MGBW and their primary green initiatives include a solar powered boat yard, a fleet of electric cars, 100% reclamation of storm water runoff, and enclosed sandblasting and painting to prevent hazardous emissions.

My colleagues are all very welcoming and I can tell they want me to learn and succeed. All of my colleagues are very open to letting me join any projects I have interest in and I have already had several people approach me about working with them, which is super exciting. I can tell that the work I am doing will have a real impact on the organization, and I cannot wait to get started! I am excited to get to know the company better, learn more about their sustainability initiatives, and be able to promote the positive impact MGBW has on the environment. I am also excited to work with the environmental and safety compliance team to see the field come to life and learn how to find risks as well as mitigate them. However, I know I have a lot to learn about the marketing aspects of my internship, and I am also a little hesitant about having to approach people working on the boats if they are in violation of an environmental or safety protocol. However, I’m excited for this internship, the people I will work with, and the projects I will get to take part in!

Meet Our Interns: Yarrow L.

About My Internship With The WHO

By Yarrow L.

The main project I will focus on for the duration of my internship is a comprehensive literature review and data collection of log reduction values for various different treatment technologies for drinking water, in order to provide data for the newest edition of the World Health Organization Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality. Specifically, I will work on table 7.7 in the guidelines, which pertains to the reduction of bacteria, viruses and protozoa achieved by water treatment technologies at drinking-water treatment plants for large communities. The most recent, fourth edition, guidelines were based purely on “expert opinion” data and did not consider the plethora of data from peer-reviewed studies from all around the world, which the updated edition will do. The table is broken down into treatment processes, including pretreatment, coagulation flocculation and sedimentation, filtration like membrane filtration or granular filtration, and primary disinfection like chlorine, ozone, or UV. For each treatment process, the log reduction value is given for bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.

So far, this task has required a lot of concentration and organizational skills. Tools like Zotero, a reference database, and Web Plot digitizer, a tool for extracting values from graphs, are very helpful in this process. The data I extract is entered into an excel spreadsheet, which will later be put into another database with all the data for the project. I have never seen an excel sheet this large, and in order for the data to be kept neat and decipherable, the spreadsheet must be very organized, which for me includes color coding (yay!). My background in microbiology, and environmental health in general, has made it much easier to understand the studies I am examining.

The main support I will need from my coworkers for this project is assistance in making judgement calls on different studies, and maybe some help with calculations for log reduction values or CT values for example. On my first day, I got an extensive orientation of the project and the different tools like Zotero that will be vital for the project, but for the most part I think it will be fairly independent with as much or as little help and support as I end up requiring. The two other people working directly with me have both been very helpful and will be able to give me support when I need it.

Meet Our Interns: Claire T.

Getting Ready for My Internship

By Claire T.

This summer I will intern at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, focusing of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. For this internship my supervisor and mentor is the Consultation Manager for Region 2. My supervisor oversees all offices in King County, including Seattle, Tukwila, and Bellevue.

For the duration of my internship I will work alongside Safety, Industrial Hygiene, and Risk Management consultants. I will be contributing to a team that helps small businesses in high hazard industries to develop safety and health programs.

I got this internship in a little bit of an unusual way. After a field trip to the L&I Tukwila office (shout out to graduate Ali for setting up the visit) for an informational meeting with some of the regional managers, I discovered an interest in their consultation department. Every year the compliance side of L&I has an internship program and takes on interns, but their consultation side did not have internship positions. After the informational meeting I went up and talked to the Consultation Manager to ask if he would even consider taking an intern on in his department. He seemed open to the idea and we set up a time to talk about possibly creating an internship position. In the end they were able to create the position!

I am really excited to take some of the knowledge that I learned in my coursework and really dive deeper into its practical application. I am also very excited to work with the Industrial Hygienists and learn about all the sampling they do and the instruments they use.

Leading up to my internship as well as my first couple days, I was nervous about what I needed to know to be successful. I was concerned that I wasn’t going to know enough information to be helpful or that some of the workers might see me as a hassle or an extra duty. Even though the first week of my internship isn’t over yet, those fears have already mostly gone away. Everyone is very friendly so far and generally they like to explain their roles within the department.

Kayla C.: About My Internship at UW Environmental Health & Safety

About My Internship at UW Environmental Health & Safety

By Kayla C.

Kayla looking for confined spaces at the UW campus.

My Internship at UW Environmental Health & Safety is composed of two roles: Programming and Shadowing. The programming sector of my internship was the first step and took up a majority of my time. OSHA recently updated its Confined Space Regulations; therefore, UW EH&S needed to update their program to remain in compliance. It had been a while since the Confined Space program was last updated, and the program is now under a new owner. As an intern, I am assisting with a complete overhaul of the program.

To complete the overhaul of the program, we first started incorporating the new regulations into the written program. This consisted of multiple drafts which were reviewed many times. As the program is finalized, the supporting documents also need to be updated. This included various forms, FAQ pages, training materials and the department’s website. I am working on incorporating the updated documents into the final program update. I was surprised to learn how much writing takes place in the field of environmental health, and how many review stages some documents go through before they are final.

The second stage of my internship is auditing all of the confined spaces around campus. This entails locating old lists, reaching out to people with access to them, and then re-evaluating the spaces against the new regulations. This is a field intensive process and requires physically going out to spaces to assess for hazards. I enjoy this aspect of my internship a lot because I have the chance to put into practice all the training and paperwork that I’ve been working on.

Overall, my internship has been an eye-opening experience. Outside of my Confined Space project, when I’m in the office I am able to see all the different things that EHS specialists are able to do. There are many career-possibilities for an EHS and so many routes that can be pursued. Even if you are working at one organization, like UW, you can be involved with things like confined spaces, hazard analysis, air quality, water quality, fire safety, asbestos, etc. The possibilities are endless!