1 December 2023

What is an Environmental Internship?

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Life is so precious. But not just ours. Every single life on this Earth matters. And as incredible as our planet is, we need to look after it if we want to keep it healthy and sustainable for present and future generations. 

Want to make a difference? Tackle the climate emergency head on and make the world a better place for all to live? Environmental internships are a great first step to creating that brighter future. 

Read our guide to all things environmental internships + learn how to get your hands on one.

To become an environmental scientist, you’ll need a degree in Environmental Science, so you can develop the knowledge and skills to solve our planet’s most complex climate problems.

When you’re at university, doing an internship will bring you one step closer to your dream job. Not only will you develop invaluable workplace skills, you’ll network with like minded people who can help take your career to the next level.

There are lots of environmental internships you can do which don’t require you to have a university degree, where you can gain qualifications through professional training.

These include:

  • Forest worker – planting trees, putting up fences and clearing nature trails
  • Farm worker –  feeding animals, harvesting crops and operating machinery
  • Solar thermal technician – installing, configuring and repairing solar panels
  • Wind turbine technician – inspecting turbines, fitting hydraulic and electrical equipment
  • Power plant operator – verifying systems that generate electricity to homes/businesses.

Have an unrelated degree? That’s okay! Whether you study Film, Marketing or Software Engineering, you’ll have tons of transferable skills to bring to the table.

You could become a videographer and work on climate justice campaigns. Or work for a tech firm and use AI to detect wildfires and extreme weather patterns like hurricanes. 

No matter what you study, you can always use your skills to apply for environmental internships at environmental companies and get your foot in the door that way. Isn’t it great?

A degree in Environmental Science is like winning Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. But instead of unlimited amounts of chocolate, you get an unlimited supply of knowledge to save the world.

Here’s a bunch of careers you can pursue with an Environmental Science degree.

Ecologists analyse the interaction between living things and their habitats. They study changes in ecosystems such as disease, human activity or increased temperatures, and present their findings to scientists and other policymakers.

Like ecologists, marine biologists study life, but in oceans, estuaries and wetlands. They look at photosynthesis, underwater migration patterns and the impact of pollution on marine life, then conduct lab experiments to detect the overall health of marine species.

Geologists are Earth scientists who study the physical, chemical and biological processes that make up our planet. They gather rock samples, measure seismic activity and write up reports for government agencies or private sector companies, helping to mitigate hazards.

Hydrologists find sustainable ways to manage our water resources. Their job is to collect water and soil samples, then develop strategies to resolve water-related issues like contamination.

As well as droughts, they predict flooding, advising on flood-control devices and irrigation systems.

Environmental lawyers represent clients on legal matters regarding the environment, ensuring they comply with regulations relating to clean air, water and greenhouse gas emissions. Cases might include banning oil drilling to protect natural land. Or safeguarding animal rights.

As an environmental intern, you’ll work on lots of sustainable projects.

One day you could be investigating the level of nitrate in soil. The next, taking photos of dolphins from a boat and creating surveys on their population and behaviours. And the following, looking after sick and injured turtles.

Typical responsibilities of an environmental intern might include:

  • Going on field trips
  • Researching policies
  • Reading, writing and reporting on briefs.

Here’s what one ecology intern had to say about their internship at Arcadis:

(Ecology Summer Intern, Arcadis)

Looking for the perfect role? We host thousands of student-written reviews on RateMyPlacement. Browse them and find the best environmental internship for you.

While an Environmental Science degree teaches you about environmental issues affecting our planet and how to manage them, employers will be looking for a broader set of skills you’ve gained from school, university, extra-curricular activities or prior work experience.

For example:

  • Verbal and written communication, including presentation skills
  • Research skills, ability to analyse and report back on data
  • Ability to work as part of a team and independently
  • Time management and project management
  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Laboratory work
  • IT and numeracy. 

Before applying for a role, read the job description carefully. Highlight all the skills the employer is looking for and demonstrate these skills on your CV using concrete examples. 

Employers don’t just want to know what skills you’ve got, but how you used them in the past and what you achieved using them. It’s all about results.

Results give a good indication of how you’d perform at a company. And showing these early on could land you an interview fast.

Part of any university societies? Mention them! Being a society member has a lot to say about you as a person. It shows you’re a time juggler and multi-tasker. It also shows you’ve got interests outside of academia and can adapt to different social environments.

That’s a win for employers and can really give you a soft skill edge in your application.

There are lots of companies out there offering environmental internships and, sometimes, it’s hard knowing which one to pick. Our mission at RateMyPlacement is to bring those companies one step closer to you and help you find your dream role with the right employer.

Here’s a list of the best companies offering environmental internships:

Want the full list? Don’t miss our Best Student Employers table. Here you’ll find outstanding value-driven companies to work for as voted by students who were once in your shoes.

Helping the planet is a collective responsibility. Each one of us can make a difference – no matter how big or small. Be the change you wish to see in the world and start your environmental internship today. What an amazing legacy to leave behind.