CCD: Tell us about your internship. What were your responsibilities?
Julia: I mainly shadowed one of the employees Mr. Paul Wierzbicki, Professional Geologist III. I sat in on a number of meetings, such as a meeting with the city of Miami officials and the owner of a lead company that has been leaking contaminants. In the state of Florida, power plant companies need approval from the DEP to amend or modify their facilities. Amendment/modification requests are all too common at the DEP and I followed Paul to a number of different power plants in South Florida (ranging from Natural Gas, Oil, and even Solar Thermal) for on-site inspections. I also worked closely with the Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP) division. ERP conducts appraisals for property owners or county officials who need a permit if altering surface water flow.
CCD: How did you secure the position?
Julia: Towards the end of last year, all of my friends were hearing back for research positions and internships and I felt out of the loop. BU has so many resources that it was difficult to know where to start. I spoke to my academic adviser and she suggested I search individually for places I would like to intern. I found the DEP’s intern application, and got in contact with the head administrator of the office closest to my house. After several phone calls and paperwork, I was a “strong contender” for one of the two intern positions. After school ended and I went back home, I had an in-person interview and was accepted into the program.
I think what really helped me nail it was the constant communication with the head administrator, Gloria. I believe that Gloria’s active involvement in my application process was crucial to my acceptance.
CCD: What was the best thing about the experience? The worst?
Julia: Over the summer, Florida experienced a significant spike of toxic blue-green algae. The DEP mobilized forces to conduct tests, analyze the substance, and remove the algae from our beaches, canals, lakes, and rivers. Although the toxic algae was an unfortunate episode in Florida’s environmental history, it was truly amazing to see how the DEP handled an environmental crisis in real time.
The worst part of the internship was the realization of how slow governmental processes actually are. In terms of environmental remediation, I learned Florida is substantially lacking.
CCD: What advice would you give to another student about making the most of a summer experience?
Julia: Stay in touch with your mentor/administrator! Get to know and befriend the employees; ask them what they love and hate about their jobs, their craziest story, for advice, what they did after college, what they did before working at the current institution, etc. Ask questions, be vocal and leave an impression.
CCD: What benefits do you feel the experience gave you?
Julia: Apart from unparalleled experiences and networking opportunity, my internship allowed me to observe what it is like to work for a governmental agency is like. Prior to this experience, I believed working for a governmental agency was my dream job. Although I am extremely grateful for the one-of-a-kind opportunity, I have reconsidered my “dream job” because I know I would have a tough time with convoluted bureaucratic political systems.