Looking for summer internships as a college student is hard, especially if you don’t want to sit at a cubicle from nine to five every day, or go door to door asking for money from complete strangers, or learn nothing more than your boss’s coffee order after weeks of work.
Luckily, that wasn’t my case. When I saw the listing for the Chincoteague Bay Field Station’s Marketing and Outreach internship, I was so excited about the idea of an experience that wasn’t like anything I easily imagined myself doing. As an English major, I feel like I have so many options of the types of career fields I could delve into that I often don’t know where to start. So, I applied with the idea that this would be an adventure, and even with no other expectations, that’s exactly what I got.
On my very first day, I put on the sneakers I was told to bring (a kind that I wouldn’t mind getting muddy, apparently) and got on a bus with a class of high school students and their teacher, headed to the intertidal zone. After that day, and after seven more weeks of wading through marsh mud, sand, mosquitoes, and warm bay water, I am 100% sure I will never wear those shoes again. But being able to develop content for the Field Station using whatever creative skill I could bring to the table was so much more valuable than a pair of my mom’s old sneakers.
Even though I had no idea what I was heading into, the experience exceeded my expectations. I got to explore the part of Virginia I always forget to draw on a map, and I got to see, take pictures of, and write about the beauty I found there. I met all of the great people that come to the Field Station, whether it’s the smart and inquisitive college students or the crazy and creative Sea Squirts.
And, of course, the amazing members of the staff that I got to work with. It’s hard to be an introvert in a room full of loud, passionate, outgoing extroverts, but somehow the people here made it easy. The counselors and the educators are the best kind of people: fun, smart, and always willing to reach out to you and welcome you into the room. They became my friends and also taught me a lot about marine science as they were teaching the kids, even if it’s just the difference between a great egret a snowy egret. (I still struggle to spell “invertebrate” though, and keep wanting to call the black-necked stilt that is in the corner of the Field Station’s logo something from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem, so there’s definitely more to learn. I’m working on it).
Even on the few days I was in the office, typing up a blog post, or editing a pictures in Photoshop for Facebook, everyone always kept a smile on my face. Even though I was the intern in the office, Anne, the Education Director, always offered to bring me tea. Amber would stop by with a new funny story, and the educators would wave on their way to another activity with the campers.
I never learned Elise’s coffee order, but I know her favorite donut is the kind with bacon bits on top, and if I weren’t a broke college student who spent all my money on donuts, I would have loved to give a better gift than just my last blog post. I got to see all the work she has done building up the Field Station’s brand and community outreach through Facebook and local events, and she gave me feedback on everything from the pictures I took to the videos I edited. The professional advice I got from her is invaluable to me, and I am so thankful for the experiences I gained this summer.
This post has gotten really long (Elise you can totally cut parts of it out, I won’t be offended) but I would just like to say thank you to all the people I worked with this summer. CBFS is a fantastic place that promotes learning and growth, and you can always count on me for a like on Facebook and Instagram!
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