The following information provides suggestions for those interested in a CLM internship who will not be graduating by Spring 2017.
- Relevant Coursework/Species Knowledge
- People and Communication Skills
- Make A Good First Impression
To qualify for a CLM internship, you must have relevant experience. Besides the specific area of biology that interests you, a broad biological background is important as well. Experience doing fieldwork (e.g., vegetation surveys & monitoring, birding/mist netting, animal survey techniques) and other ecological management tools can also be a big plus - consider volunteering with a government or non-profit agency to get this experience. Other possibilities to enhance your biological background can be found in undergraduate internships, part-time employment, volunteering, working on a faculty research project or senior honors thesis. Remember, you are also making contacts for your letters of recommendation!
Know how to use dichotomous keys! Field biologists often run into plants and animals they don't know, and must figure out species identifications on their own. Applicants that have taken courses that include species identification (e.g. Plant Systematics/Taxonomy, Entomology, Ichthyology, Ornithology, Vertebrate Biology, Mammalogy, Herpetology, Invertebrate Biology, etc.) are extremely valuable and are often hired! There is a shortage of botanists trained in basic plant identification and plant and community ecology. As many of our internships are plant-focused, we strongly encourage applicants with coursework in botany, especially plant identification. Examples of other relevant coursework include GIS (Geographical Information Systems), Ecology, Conservation Biology, Natural Resources, Range Management, Conservation Field Methods, Population & Community Ecology, Forestry, Environmental Policy, and Environmental Science.
These are very important for a successful CLM internship. Because our interns work in field offices for various federal agencies, the ability to cooperate, collaborate, and follow directions is important. In most internships you will be required to work in a team comprised of other interns, technicians, biologists, and/or volunteers. Communication, teamwork, and the ability to work together to complete a project are essential. You must be able to get along with others, and be able to express yourself clearly on paper and in person.
Make sure there are no obvious misspellings or other mistakes on your application materials. Mistakes can detract from your application, since they may indicate that you don't care enough or aren't attentive enough to proof-read your application. Forgoing basic English composition and grammar may be fine for text-messages, but not for your cover letter and professional emails! Not using proper grammar, capitalization and punctuation definitely gives a bad first-impression. Always be professional!