Environmental Defenders Research (Team Honduras), U.S. Department of State
Major: Environmental Science and Policy; Spanish
Minor: International Development and Conflict Management
Class Year: 2022
What was a typical week like in your internship position?
The internship required 30 hours per week during the summer and most of the work was done independently. I was assigned specific environmental defender cases to research and create comprehensive timelines for, and this took up a bulk of my hours for the week. The research was put into a large presentation which was presented to the interagency working group and Honduran embassy at the end of July. We also had a few team meetings per week on zoom where we discussed progress on our components of the project and goals for the next meeting.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
I really loved the social component of the internship because I had never experienced a work environment where everyone was excited to get together for meetings and plan events to see each other after work hours. The head of the program did a really great job at fostering this sense of community and openness from the beginning and it allowed us to feel comfortable with our teammates almost immediately.
How did your coursework help you in your internship?
I was able to apply my environmental politics degree to my internship because many of the cases referenced environmental laws and treaties that we have learned about in class. My minor in international development applied because many of the cases covered indigenous rights and women’s rights, topics which we cover through the minor program. My Spanish degree was also really helpful because most of the sources we used were in Spanish as they came from small local sources in Honduras.
How did you locate your internship position?
I participated in the Federal Fellows program at UMD and receive a few emails a week from their listserv about internship and job opportunities. This position was sent out on one of the email during the Spring semester.
Advice for students:
Apply, apply, apply! It’s really really easy to get discouraged when you don’t hear back from your applications or get rejected. It’s all a part of the process. Even when you feel underqualified, you should still apply because sometimes you have specific skills or experiences that make you stand out. I would also suggest signing up for listservs through both the university and online resources in the sectors that you are interested in because I have found many job opportunities through these.
Anything else you want to share with students about your experience?
Knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you like. Sometimes you might be surprised by what you enjoy so apply for positions that might seem out of your comfort zone or different from what you’re used to.