Sooooooo….where have I been for the past 2 months and half? Not to worry, I’m not dead or severely injured; I’ve just been plagued with computer hardware problems that have limited my access and communication with the internet. Things appear to be much better now, and I have a lot to catch up on and discuss with you all.
But the main reason for this particular post is to inform all of my readers that I am going to live my dream and start a career working for the federal government in the Department of the Interior. Right now I have my heart set on the National Park Service. As you may already know, I am currently a volunteer at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton, CT. Since I started my work there, in the summer of 2014, I have logged well over 100 hours, most of the time spent managing the trail system.
There is a wonderful program called the Student Conservation Association, or SCA, which works with the federal government (in particular the Dept. of the Interior) as a way of giving young adults such as myself to opportunity to work as interns for the National Park Service, US Forest Service, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Wildlife Management, the Nature Conservancy, as well as each state’s Department of Fish and Game (or equivalent thereof). The internships are expense-paid and open to citizens 16-25 years of age. There are also positions for international students. You do not need to be in college or have a degree to apply (I, myself, have not gone to university).
“The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s conservation corps. Our members protect and restore national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks, and community green spaces in all 50 states.”
The benefit of these internships is immense. For folks like me looking to start a career, this is an excellent place to start since these positions offer quality training and various certifications, such as Wilderness first Responder and Chainsaw/Crosscut saw training, to help you achieve your goal. In a way, the internships give you a “taste” of what working for these departments is like. Most of the NPS employees I know started out in the SCA, as the experience facilitated their progress within the Service. See ‘Top 10 Reasons to Work at SCA‘. Once you complete your application (and r`esum`e for adult applicants), you can apply to up to 20 positions and pick the internship you want. There is a $25 application fee, but it is one-time only. If you wish to do another internship, you do not need to pay the fee again.
The reason I am bringing this to your attention is that I feel more young people should be made aware of this opportunity. When I was in high school, every one of our guidance counselors stressed that the only way to success was through college, not careers and certainly not through *gasp* the military. My high school did have a “career center”, but it was very underwhelming and offered very limited choices to senior students. At the time, I had convinced myself that I needed to major in Psychology, a study I enjoyed, but Fate had other plans… I never did get into college due to the ridiculous financial expense it would create, and I wanted to be careful with such an investment of time, money, and effort. A failed attempt to join the military left me out of all the options I could think of at the time, and for awhile I struggled to find employment, especially since I was without a drivers’ license (again, for financial reasons). During that time, I found that many college students were no better off then I. Student loan debt is at an all-time high, and even after getting a master’s or doctorate degree, some grads struggle to pay the costs and end up running about trying to find full time work. The least fortunate had to drop out of college and fall back on their families for support, again, desperately looking for employment. Now, don’t get me wrong here: there’s nothing wrong with going to college, but it is not for everyone, and it certainly deserves more consideration than ever before. I really wish my guidance counselors had offered more meaningful advice instead of trying to boost the school’s “graduate success rates” in order to convince the masses of potential new students to enroll there. Of course, I cannot change the past, but I do know that I live the present and can change my future.
As of now, I have applied to 10 natural resource management and backcountry trail-work internships around the country. I will let you all know when I am selected, and where I will go. SCA internships usually last 6 months to a year, though during the summer there are intern programs offered especially to college students, lasting 16 weeks or less.
Wherever I go and whatever I end up doing, it is going to be one heck of an adventure – I’m looking forward to it. 🙂