In the summer of 2016, Allie Cook completed an amusing internship experience at the Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa in Hinckley, MN. Before starting, she had to be interviewed and trained. She found this internship two years ago during her freshman year when an Environmental Studies professor sent out an email about summer internship and job opportunities. Allie had no idea what she was going to do for the summer, so she glanced at the email and found this position which she thought was pretty interesting. So, she applied and was hired! Allie had such an amazing experience that she applied again for this past summer. Her typical day began when she would go to the National Park with her group of high school students. They then worked on whatever project was given to them that day. After her group returned to the campsite, Cook organized an hour of educational activity where she taught the group about environmental topics or various life skills. Allie also performed trail maintenance and conservation work, such as planting trees and removing invasive species. Yet, the most challenging part of the internship was the little amount of free time she had and having to constantly be a role model for the students.
According to this junior, problem solving, thinking while on your feet, and communication were the three main skills that she utilized the most during her experience. “Whenever a problem would arise or there was a change in plans, I had to come up with a solution fast because my whole crew depended on me,” recalled Allie. “Throughout the whole summer, I was working side-by-side with another co-leader and it was important that I had good, open communication so that things ran smoothly and the best decisions were made for everyone.” She also feels as though this internship provided her with new skills in peer mediation and improvement in professionalism and problem solving.
Who I Met that Made a Difference
Cook would consider asking the people that she worked with for recommendations and references. These connections are very important to her because the staff is so small, they needed to be able to rely on each other for support. She also believes a lot of the people that she worked with will be her friends for life. “There was a wide range of ages among the group, so remaining in contact with them will also be great for future job searching and networking,” mentions Allie.
Allie feels more prepared in being able to manage and organize large groups of people. Her time at Conservation Corps showed her that there are other job opportunities besides just sitting at a desk. She states, “This internship definitely changed me as a person. I have a completely new outlook on life and have learned that everything will work itself out eventually.” In general, she learned that there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work which she took for granted before the experience.
The Coolest Part of the Experience
The coolest part of Allie’s experience was being able to see a moose at the Isle Royale National Park. Also, her favorite aspect was seeing how the students changed throughout the program.
Allie advises her fellow students to do something that is in the realm of what you like, but also out of your comfort zone. This will allow you to learn more about yourself and possible employment options. “You learn by pushing your limits,” says Allie. Lastly, she would definitely recommend the Conservation Corps to anyone with interests in working with children, community building, education, manual conservation work, and the environment.