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What is it like to be a summer intern? Find out here!

Our chapter is hiring two paid interns again this summer, so we thought this would be a great time to share some perspective from our most recent interns - Vicki and Brian! We interviewed them towards the end of their summer 2023 internships; read along to find out about their experience. If you or someone you know would be interested in applying for this year, apply by Friday, March 1!


What made you want to apply for the internship with the Surfrider Foundation Eastern Long Island Chapter?

Brian: I’d been volunteering with Surfrider for the past few years and through that, I’d heard about the internship before. The Surfrider Foundation is definitely my favorite organization for so many reasons. I’ve always been impressed by how there are committed volunteers getting stuff done on the local level, but there are also regional and national staff who spread their work to make a larger impact.

Vicki: I had a few different reasons why I had applied for this internship. When I first heard of the internship, I applied because the environmental work seemed interesting and the Foundation was local. I knew I wanted to do community outreach and a little bit of lab work so I thought it would be a good fit. 


What has been your favorite part of the internship so far?

Brian: My favorite part of the internship so far has definitely been all of the events that we’ve hosted throughout the summer. I enjoy talking to people about what Surfrider is and why it should be important to them like it is to me. These events are also great since we get to spend time with other members of the local chapter who all love the oceans, waves, and beaches and are committed to protecting them.

Vicki: My favorite task has been working with Blue Water Task Force. I really enjoy the science background of the program and I love that I am able to be on the beach for my job at 8 AM on a Monday! However, my favorite part has been working with so many fantastic people. Every person has been a joy to talk with and clearly has a passion for the environment, something that I feel some people lack with my peers, funny enough. 


Did you learn about any topics that were new to you or you did not expect to learn about?

Brian: I learned so much through this internship. I learned how to do what the Blue Water Task Force does from start to finish. I learned about different types of native plants at the Ocean Friendly Gardens. I learned how difficult it is to get restaurants to change their habits to become a part of the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program. I learned a ton about local politics and issues I never thought would be so important like the immediate need for immediate septic improvement on the East End.

Vicki: I learned a lot about gardening and native plants on Long Island, specifically at our August Chapter Meeting. I also learned a lot about Long Island itself. How our septic system and water table works, how our legislation works, and way more. 


Did this internship introduce you to new skills, and if so, what ones? 

Brian: This internship helped me get more comfortable with reaching out to people and businesses to ask them questions or try to petition them to join one of our campaigns. I’ve been amazed at how constantly reaching out has the power to create important changes. This internship has also taught me about what it’s like to work in a lab. I’ve never worked in a lab outside of classes at school, so the Blue Water Task Force provided me with a great opportunity to improve my lab skills.

Vicki: One skill I learned was how to write social media captions. I know this sounds bizarre considering I am 20 years old but it was interesting learning and looking up what phrases and emojis best reach people! I got to work on my lab skills which is nice since college lab isn’t fun but the BWTF lab is actually a lot of fun. I also got to work on my “people” skills. I was able to talk to so many amazing people and even strangers who had nothing to do with the Surfrider Foundation but wanted to learn about it anyway! 


What has been the most fun or memorable day working for us this summer?

Brian: My favorite day of the internship so far has been tabling at the Rell Sunn Surf Contest at Ditch. For all of the work that we do testing water, cleaning beaches, and helping with campaigns, it’s great to be able to enjoy the surfing atmosphere that we’re working to protect. Beyond this one event, this internship has provided us with countless opportunities to have fun and enjoy ourselves.

Vicki: Definitely tabling at the first Alive on 25. It was a lot of fun to talk to so many people and learn more about Jenna and Estefany. We had some fun music and it was fun dancing while the fireworks were going off! 


Generally speaking, what were your impressions about the people you’ve met along the way, like volunteers, partners, staff, or other important members of our community?

Brian: Everyone who works with Surfrider is so committed to the organization that they’re willing to take time out of their busy schedules and volunteer at every single event we have. This creates a great environment where the work we’re doing often doesn't feel like work, but instead, it’s something fun that we don’t want to miss out on. 

Vicki: Every single person was fantastic. Everyone seemed so passionate about environmental stewardship and actually seemed like they cared about saving the planet. Even the people who were political officials or were not affiliated with the Surfrider Foundation seemed interested in the work we were doing. 


Do you feel like this experience aligns with your career goals, and why?

Brian: I’m not sure of any plans I have for a career yet, but I do know that I want to do something related to helping the environment. The Surfrider Foundation does a wide range of things specifically focused on protecting the environment. This internship has exposed me to some of the many different ways that I could have an impact on the environment in the future.

Vicki:  Absolutely. I believe this internship has steered my way towards my career which will either be in environmental policy or water quality maintenance. Even if my career choice changes, this experience has shown me there are so many things I am interested in and would consider working in. 


What’s next for you after your internship ends?

Brian: I’m about to start my first year of college where I plan on studying the environment in some way whether that is policy or science. This internship has shown me just how much fun it can be to work in both of those fields.

Vicki: Two more years of undergraduate university and then hopefully completing my masters degree a few years after graduation. I plan on applying for another internship for the 2024 summer as I have had such an amazing experience with this one. 


What would you say to college students considering applying for an internship with us in the future?

Brian: For all the work you’ll do with Surfrider over the summer, you’ll get a ton of value from what they can offer in return. Even if you think that you’re only interested in environmental science or just in environmental policy, this experience will open up your eyes to many things that you may not have thought you enjoyed before. And besides that, you’ll get to spend an awesome summer alongside some great people.

Vicki:  Overall, I cannot explain how great of an internship this experience was. Surfrider Foundation shows you everything you could even think of when it comes to stewardship. If you are even remotely interested in protecting our oceans, waves, and beaches, come prepared with good energy and show that you are ready to work and everyone will welcome you with open arms. 


Interested in our Summer 2024 Internship? Apply by Friday, March 1!