Resource Spotlight: National Park Service Internship Programs

On Top of the World

Last summer, I took a big summer trip to Yosemite National Park. It was incredible, so much so that I began to plan for a return trip immediately after I got home. I found out a few weeks ago that I will be vacationing there again this upcoming summer, this time traveling through their High Sierra Camps. I am super excited!

Before last summer’s trip, I highlighted the Student Conservation Association (SCA), an excellent resource for finding internship opportunities with the National Park Service, with whom they are a partner. However, the SCA isn’t the only resource for finding opportunities to work with in our national parks.

  • Many internships/jobs for students are filled at the park level. If there is a national park that you are really interested in working for, contact them directly. Might I suggest Yosemite 😉
  • You can seek opportunities through the federal government’s Student Educational Employment Program. There are two programs under this umbrella, the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). To find positions, visit and USAJobs. Again, you can also contact parks directly. If you are eligible for STEP or SCEP, let them know.
  • Since UW-Whitewater has both MBA and MPA programs, I should mention the National Parks Business Plan Internship. Up to 15 summer “consultants” are brought on board. The students are grouped into teams of two to three and are assigned to work at one of our national parks. The consultants work with park management to conduct financial and strategy analysis. Transportation to the training session, to the park, and from the park back home are covered. Plus, summer consultants receive a weekly stipend AND are provided with housing.
  • Perfect for history and public history majors is the Historic Preservation Internship Training Program. Notice for Summer 2011 positions will be put out in January. There is also the Heritage Documentation Programs, which offer work to students in documenting historic sites and structures of architectural, landscape, and technological significance throughout the country.
  • The Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program is open to diverse undergraduate and graduate students. Interns are placed in opportunities for historic preservation and cultural resources work. These summer internships include a Career Workshop in Washington, DC, a weekly stipend, and housing allowance.

If you are at all interested in working for the National Park Service, you have a ton of resources available to find that perfect internship. Hope to see you out there!

Internship Link Roundup for the Week of November 15

Rock the Vote. Intern in Politics.

Last week, the big news story was the mid-term elections. Only if you were living under a rock did you not see, hear, or have a general awareness of the serious campaigning going on leading up to this election. What you likely didn’t see, however, was the power behind many of those campaigns: college student volunteers and interns.

If you are interested in a career in politics or government, there are a few key methods of gaining relevant experience as an undergraduate.

  • Get involved in student government. If you are pursuing a career in politics or government, one excellent way to start diving into the field early in your college career is by getting involved in student government. For one, you can gain actual experience for your resume, especially if you serve in an executive board or, in the case of Whitewater Student Government, a senator position. At the very least, most people would expect to see involvement in student government from anyone looking to get into politics or government work. It’s likely a key item potential internship sites will look for when evaluating applicants’ resumes.
  • Volunteer with a political campaign. As I mentioned in the introduction, many students were involved in the most recent political campaigns. This includes working for local politicians running in state legislative races as well as the bigger campaigns for governor and US House or Senate. I know of several UW-W students who worked with the Scott Walker campaign, both this summer and into the fall semester. During the last presidential election, there were UW-W students working with the local campaign efforts for Barack Obama. Last Wednesday, the day after the election, CNN was already mentioning that campaigns for the 2012 presidential election would be gearing up. There will no doubt be plenty of campaign opportunities on the horizon.
  • When campaigns aren’t in full swing, intern with a elected official. What do you do if it’s not an election year or if there are no campaigns to work on? Look for internships with current elected officials. Paul Ryan, US Congressman serving Wisconsin’s 1st District, gets information to UW-W every year about his internship opportunities. These internships are available locally in his Janesville Constituent Services Center OR with his office in Washington, DC. Governor Jim Doyle has also offered internship opportunities which have been available in his Madison, Milwaukee, and Washington DC offices. I would imagine similar opportunities will be available with Scott Walker when he begins his term as governor. In the case for many of these internships, you can stay close OR go far!

Any of these experiences should provide helpful insight into local, state, and national politics. You can gain some valuable experience without running for office. Of course if you do decide to run for an elected office, the background you gain through student government, volunteering with a campaign, or interning with an elective official will definitely be put to good use!

For more information on internship opportunities in government, public policy, or politics, please see our Field-Specific Programs & Resources page on the UW-W Internships website.

Photo by Beverly & Pack

You Have More Experience than You Think

I feel like resumes have taken over my life this semester. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. However, I have done more than a few resume reviews during appointments, via email, and at our Resume Dr. events.

Resumes become frequent guests in my internship search appointments with students. In many instances, this is the first draft EVER of the student’s resume, and it’s often a pre-internship resume (Sometimes I’ll meet with a student who has already had an internship and is going back for more). One of the biggest concerns these students have is fear of a lack of experience.

Never fear! You probably have more experience than you think you have.

So where is all of this experience hiding? Consider the following:

  • Community Service: Extensive volunteer experiences often provide you with the exact skills employers are looking for. It wasn’t a paid job? So what! The important factor is what you actually DIDduring the experience. Take UW-Whitewater’s America Reads program, through which students tutor and work one-on-one with area elementary school children either in the classroom or in after-school reading programs. Particularly for individuals going into human services or education, this is indeed important experience.
  • Student Organization Leadership: UW-Whitewater has a wide variety of student organizations, including professional organizations such as the Forensics Team, Social Work Student Organization, and Student Wisconsin Education Association. Students who step up to take leadership roles with these or other student organizations are often doing work. The treasurer monitors a group’s finances, the secretary is the main communications hub, and the president manages the overall operations. There is a lot of real “work” a student in such a role can describe on his/her resume. Additionally, a group like the American Marketing Association (AMA) participates in a national case competition every year. Playing a role on the case competition team should provide a student with experience in research, report writing, and presenting.
  • Student Government: Students who serve as Senators or in Executive Board positions with Whitewater Student Government (WSG) are building experience in governance, legislative processes, and constituent (i.e. student) outreach. For a student considering a career in government and/or politics, this provides directly related experience. I’m hosting a resume writing workshop for History, Political Science, and Public Policy majors next week. If anyone attending hopes to go into one of these career areas AND happens to be involved in WSG, I’ll be encouraging them to place much more emphasis on their work with student government.

Look at your college activities a little differently to find experiences and skills that you can more strongly market to a potential internship site. While tucking the above experiences into a “Co-Curricular Activities” section on a resume makes sense in some cases (for example, you’re just a regular member of the organization, it was a one-time community service activity, or an organization is purely for fun), other circumstances allow you to highlight important work that you’ve done in a seemingly innocuous part of your college life.

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Photo by sansfaim

Internship Link Roundup for the Week of October 11

Photo by Max Klingensmith