2011 Career Discovery Internship Program
Jamal McDonald is a sophomore economics major at the indigenous Howard University. He is originally from the city of steel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In Pittsburgh McDonald was not exposed to nature and wildlife very much. Growing up in the city, not having much experience with nature and wildlife, was McDonald’s main reason for applying for CDIP internship. At Howard University McDonald is involved in many extra curricular activities such as S.I.M.B.A, the economics club, and the Pittsburgh club. When he has free time, which is almost never, McDonald likes to hang out with friends and try new escapades. After this internship he hopes to gain a better understand for nature and wildlife. He also would like to share his experience with others who have no background with nature and wildlife. In the future McDonald plans on becoming an investment banker.
Jamal on the CDIP Program
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has hired 62 interns from all around the country to participate in an internship known as the Career Discovery Internship program, which is a program that gives college students the opportunity to experience a hands on approach to work in conservation. Beyond conservation this internship allows students to gain friends, professionalism, knowledge, and potential career options. This competitive internship is rewarding not only for the students but for the service as well. The employees that work with the CDIP interns truly appreciate the contribution and hospitality that the students put forth into bettering the service.
Like CDIP, there is another program known as the Youth Conservations Corps that is projected for teens between the ages of 15 and 18. This program enables the youth to work directly with conservation doing a range of things from painting and craft work to pulling invasive plants surrounding the refuge where they work. Recently, I traveled to Back Bay national refuge as well as to the Rachel Carson refuge and I got the chance to interview a few of the CDIP interns and YCC students.
Kenneth Person, is a 17 year old rising senior in high school and is apart of the YCC program in Virginia Beach. While I was interviewing Person he told me that previous to this program he hadn’t really been interested or concerned about nature or wildlife. After being halfway through with his program I asked if his feelings had changed, and unsurprisingly they had. Person said “this program has helped me gain a greater appreciation for nature and wildlife.” He also included that he had not experienced many encounters with conservation other than with boy scouting. The moral to this interview was not that Person’s attitude changed toward conservation but, that because he hadn’t encountered much wildlife and conservation projects prior to this experience, he now realized he actually had a passion for it. The opportunity to become a YCC employee and a CDIP intern allows students who never or rarely and even those who regularly encounter conservation to gain a true overall opinion of nature and wildlife.
The work that each individual CDIP intern performs is different depending on which location they are placed. For example, Jamal McDonald, one of the interns for the service works in the Hadley regional office and does desk work most of the day. Whereas Ariel Ford, another intern works at the Rachel Carson refuge and does field work such as pulling invasive plants, monitoring birds, and working in the visitors center. Although these two interns have completely different job descriptions, they both contribute hard work and dedication to the service and are helping improve the service.
Each intern will take personal and shared experiences with them after they complete their internship. Samantha Derrick works in the Hadley regional office as well as a science applications intern, and she states “after this program I will take with me the experience of working in a pristine environment while actively engaging in an area I have always been passionate about.” This internship gives students the opportunity to get a great feel for what independence truly is. Students work full time, 40 hours per week and they live on their own. Independence is one of the many traits a lot of students will take with them when they complete this internship.
Once this internship is over, I asked students how they will tell others about the experience. Dominique Talley, a junior biology major at Spelman University states “this internship has helped me learn so many new things about nature, wildlife, others as well as myself. This is a phenomenal program and it pushed me to gain a better respect for things outside of my comfort zone.” Many of the students responded similar to Dominique. One common statement that all of the students agreed upon was that they’d indeed do the program again.
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