Elena Capaldi ’14
Major(s): Environmental Studies
Internship Site: Paul Smiths College of The Adirondacks - Paul Smiths, NY
I found out about this internship through a Dickinson alumna who mentioned her experiences with this program the past summer. I had always thought I would want to go into conservation work post-Dickinson, so I applied for the position and got it! I sent in many components of a paper application, my CV, and my Resume, and then had a very long Skype interview with my supervisors about why I was interested in the position. They asked me questions about past experiences with work similar to the stewardship program work and my interest in this particular program. About a month and a half later, I got a call from one of my supervisors who then offered me the position, and I began to do my preliminary readings into the programs past reports to get a sense of what I was going to be learning in my training.
I was a Watershed Steward, hired by the college’s Adirondack Watershed Institute, which meant that 3-4 days a week I was stationed at various boat launch sites on the Eastern side of the Adirondack park, collecting data from each boater I saw entering and leaving that body of water between the hours of 7 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon.
My main project was educational outreach at the boat launches, which I enjoyed because I got to interact with the public on a daily basis about invasive species and conservation issues.
The Science Director for the Adirondack Watershed Institute was by far the most helpful and kind person I met during this internship. I interviewed her for an Internship Notation Program assignment and she taught me a lot about conservation work she’d accomplished in her own career. She always made herself available for the stewards with personal AND professional concerns, and was genuinely helpful and kind when interacting with each of us on the job.
Tips from Elena:
1) When you start looking for internships, focus less on the field you think you’ll be working in your future career, and more about what you want to personally accomplish with your internship. If you want to work with kids apply for both the internship at an art camp as well as a wilderness camp—you never know which experience will get you more hands-on experience with educating kids if you don’t look into both options!
2) Seek feedback from co-workers and supervisors whenever possible, ask questions, express concerns, and make sure you’ve grown from your experience with your internship no matter the outcome.
3) Make sure you go into your interview or first day of work with a pretty accurate idea of what your internship is about or requires—there’s no worse feeling than feeling caught off guard or unprepared about your responsibilities. Do preliminary research or ask questions if you’re unsure!
*To find out more about how to get an internship, make an appointment with a career counselor. Just call the Career Center at 717-245-1740 or stop by Biddle House.