by Rachael Kroot
Published March 7, 2013
It has come that time of year when we graduate students need to start thinking about internships. Some of you may be opposed to the idea of working for free... or even worse, actually paying to work because you need to get the summer credit hours. I understand. I know how tight money can be and how valuable your time is. But as somebody who has already done two internships, trust me, the right company can make it worth your while!
I had my first internship the summer before my senior year at Maryland. I was lucky enough to score a coveted spot in National Geographic’s Remote Imaging department. Like most internships, I started out doing "grunt" work - things like organizing the office space. The key is to not get discouraged. In the right place, you can offer to do more challenging work, and they will allow you to advance over time. I think it only took one week before my supervisor asked me to write a project proposal for the department. They were so pleased with my work that it led to more assignments and independence in the coming weeks. I got to work on some really fun topics, attend various meetings, and meet some great people in different departments. I still keep in touch with many of the people, and a big part of me believes that if it were not for my internship at National Geographic, I would not be in graduate school for Broadcast Meteorology now.
That first internship also led to an internship at Discovery Channel the following spring semester. I worked in their production department, where I was able to learn about science communications from a different perspective. Now, as a grad student, I am looking for an internship specifically in broadcast meteorology (which is another take on science communication, if you think about it). Undergraduate internships are great for figuring out what you want to do with your life and how your skills fit into the workplace… but as graduate students, we need to be looking for the real deal in our fields!
To accomplish this goal, I have applied to intern at stations across the country. Personally, I am looking at PA, MD, DC and Memphis, because I have friends and family in those locations who have offered to let me live with them for free. It is not just the location that's important with an internship, though. During your application process, be sure to ask questions and do your research. For instance, I want to know things like what type of weather graphic systems stations are using and if they will give me time to practice in front of the green screen. Decide what you want to get out of your experience and make it happen!
Rachael has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and is currently attending graduate school for broadcast meteorology.