Winter Break is the perfect time to reflect on how you would like to spend your upcoming summer vacation. Believe it or not, the Nation’s Parks offer amazing internships and various summer programs for students of all ages! What a great way to spend the summer working at Yosemite National Park or any of the other equally beautiful State Parks throughout the United States. It is a wonderful learning experience, looks amazing on your resume and is one of the healthiest ways to spend your summer, enjoying the great outdoors!
There are actually 58 national parks in the United States, many of them unsung natural oases full of majestic beauty. And while the marquee parks—Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite—are well worth visiting, there are drawbacks, namely high admission prices and enormous crowds. Around 3,500 employees are hired every year at Yellowstone Park alone to provide service for the nearly 3 million visitors who annually visit the park. A wide variety of different types of jobs are available throughout the park – with dormitory-style housing frequently provided. Wages vary with the type of position and skill required. The National Park Service (NPS) and the concessionaires hire employees either full-time or seasonally (summer and winter). Most employment extends from the beginning of June through Labor Day, with some seasonal positions lasting up to six months. Volunteer positions can also be found with the NPS and the Student Conservation Association.
On the nationwide level, there are thousands of opportunities for high school, college, and graduate school students to work with the National Park Service. Many of these jobs are filled at the park level – so contact the park that interests you – but others are advertised and recruited nationally by the National Park Service or in partnership with several national organizations. They welcome the interest and involvement of the next generation who will help care for our nation’s environment and preserve her history! Some of these opportunities include but are not limited to the following: Geoscientists-in-the Parks Internships, Mosaics in Science Internships, Student Conservation Association, Pathways for Students and Recent Graduates, National Park Business Plan and Consulting Internships, Historic Preservation Training Internships, Cultural Resources Diversity Internships, Historic Sites and Structures Documentation Internships, Maritime Documentation Internship and a whole host of Volunteer Opportunities.
Since 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association has been the sole voice of the American people in the fight to safeguard the scenic beauty, wildlife, and historical and cultural treasures of the largest and most diverse park system in the world. Originally created as a watchdog for the National Park Service, today NPCA partners with the federal government and numerous national, regional and local groups to act:
• On the ground mobilizing citizens and joining with communities, businesses, landowners and activists to protect park resources by battling abuse and neglect, educating the public, promoting local restoration and fostering better management in national parks nationwide;
• In Congress promoting parks legislation and lobbying for public funding to meet growing needs;
• In the courts establishing legal safeguards that will protect our national parks for years to come.
Through their internship program, NPCA brings high school, undergraduate and graduates students to their nationwide offices, providing the training and skills development essential for successful careers to continue the work of protecting our parks for the future.
Program interns will spend the majority of their time working on one long-term project but should also anticipate periodically assisting the staff of the national programs and Government Affairs department. Duties are likely to include:
• Researching issues and compiling and analyzing information in support of NPCA’s legislative and long-range policy programs;
• Analyzing various documents, such as park plans;
• Attending and collecting information from Congressional hearings.
Non-program interns will spend their time working on a variety of tasks. For example, an accounting intern would provide overall support to the finance department; a human resource intern may have a specific project, but would also provide overall support to the human resource department. The same goes with other departments within the organization.
Interns/Associates must be undergraduates, enrolled in a post-graduate program, or recent college graduates within a 12-month time period with relative experience, education, and skills. Program interns should have experience, education, and skills in one or more of the following areas: conservation biology, ecology, natural resources management (terrestrial or marine), cultural resources management, museum studies, anthropology, public policy (social, demographic, philosophic implications of National Park Service activities), legal research and analysis, or political science.
As stated previously, Internships may be paid or unpaid. An intern’s compensation will correspond directly to his or her skills, experience, and education. The compensation range is between $9 and $17 per hour. Most interns are expected to work a 12- to 35-hour work-week, Monday through Friday. Most interns do not receive benefits.
The Top 12 most visited National Parks are the following:
• Death Valley
• Grand Canyon
• Great Smoky Mountains
I am sure that more than a few of these gorgeous National Parks will capture your interest and imagination! Remember, there are a total of 58 National Parks in the United States of America so be sure not to limit yourself to the most popular summer destinations. Think about the logistics of your upcoming expedition and go from there. Can you imagine anything more exciting than spending the entire summer exploring and learning about each and every treasure that particular National Park has to offer?
In order to get started, please access the following websites:
Working at a National Park – Jobs and Volunteering
Best Internship 2012: Yosemite National Park