Internships are one of the pillars of a Unity College education, and even though students receive ample opportunities to get hands-on education through the College’s experiential curriculum, nothing can quite compare to getting out in the field alongside your future peers. In recent years, Unity College has placed an emphasis on students applying for and engaging in internship work, with Internship Coordinator Kristine McCallister working with students to help make professional connections and find beneficial internship opportunities related to their field of interest.
“Internships are a critical part of what makes a Unity College education and degree valuable,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “While students are studying at the Flagship or through Distance Education, receiving the right internship helps them excel, and they can apply their knowledge to the real world. Having the chance to work with professionals in the green economy is not only a great resume builder that will open doors for students once they graduate, it’s also inspiring for them.”
“Our students always explore a wide variety of internships that take them all over the country, and sometimes all over the world,” said McCallister. “The opportunities for those internships are nearly endless, and I’m always excited to hear their stories and their progress. Oftentimes, our students will start their career with the organization they interned with, which shows just how important getting the right internship can be.”
In November, Unity College students had the chance to showcase the work from their internships, talking with faculty, staff, and classmates about their experiences at the annual Internship Showcase.
Organic farming in South Korea
Through internships, Unity College students have gotten the opportunity to explore the world, and when Lyndsay Sharrock was weighing her options, she knew she wanted an internship that combined her passion for organic farming and exploring new cultures.
A senior Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Writing major, Sharrock found the perfect opportunity through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), where she traveled through South Korea working on three farms. Throughout the summer, Sharrock helped cultivate raspberries, herbs, and rice, and also worked with children. She had the opportunity to visit South Korea’s capital, Seoul, twice while she was there, the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and a handful of Buddhist temples.
But, arguably her favorite part of the internship was meeting new friends. “I met new people every single week,” Sharrock explained. “I took advantage of every opportunity to learn about Korean culture from the people around me; I attended a K-pop festival, learned how to make rice cakes, and visited historical sites.”
Sharrock encourages everyone to visit South Korea, noting that the people are some of the kindest she’s ever met. Before you go, however, make sure you know a little bit of the language beforehand.
“It makes all the difference,” said Sharrock, who studied Korean for a year and a half leading up to her internship.
Educating on Natural History in New Hampshire
While others studying Captive Wildlife Care and Education at Unity College tend to lean more heavily into the “care” aspects of the major, Josh Flagg knew from day one that he wanted to become an educator.
This summer, Flagg got the opportunity to do just that at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness, New Hampshire, where he served as an education intern. “I love humor, I love to make people laugh, so I incorporated a lot of humor into my programs, which according to my supervisors was a really refreshing change,” said Flagg.
During his internship, Flagg had the opportunity to bring his energetic style of teaching to groups of schoolchildren ranging from kindergarten to high school on field trips, as well as families and community members of all ages during presentations at local libraries.
In January, Flagg is taking over the full-time position of Naturalist and Head of Raptor Training at Squam Lakes. “I am excited to be in the real world now,” said Flagg. “It’s definitely a change, but when I get up for work in the morning, I’m excited to go, and I love what I do, so I’m thrilled.”
Mixing Media, Oysters, and Agriculture
Over the summer, Brandon Hoeckel, a Unity College senior double majoring in Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Writing, became a jack of all trades while interning at Wright’s Cove Farm and Glidden Point Oyster Farms. His internship melded three very different areas of focus: Aquaculture, agriculture, and media.
“It was a lot of new things for me,” Hoeckel said. “I hadn’t worked in aquaculture, I hadn’t managed a garden, and I was working with a website that was actively being used by a company.”
In his role, Hoeckel planted, tilled the land, and oversaw where everything was going in a new garden at Glidden Point. He also managed Glidden Point’s website, took photos for the organization, and helped raise oysters at the organization’s small-scale nursery site at Wright’s Cove Farm in Northport. Oysters, Hoeckel explains, take about three years to get to normal production size, and when he left his internship in September, the oysters were only the size of a nickel or a dime.
For Hoeckel, the summer internship helped him take a lot of the foundation he has learned at Unity College, and build on that to better understand how to manage the logistics of a sustainable business. Except for the aquaculture part, which was completely new to him, but he absorbed the information like a sponge.
“I know a ton about oysters on the Damariscotta River now,” Hoeckel added.
Working at New England’s Largest Aquarium
The New England Aquarium in Boston is home to some 20,000 animals, as well as a 200,000-gallon tank that ranks among the 10 largest in any aquarium across the country. Over the summer, Jordan Baker, a senior Marine Biology major at Unity College, had the opportunity of a lifetime to learn the ins and outs of the New England Aquarium as an aquarist intern primarily working with the Northern Waters of the World Gallery.
While Jordan spent her days ensuring that the animals were properly fed and that they had plenty of toys, one of the key subjects she learned about, surprisingly, was tank plumbing.
“You wouldn’t think in a role like this that being a plumber would be so handy in a tank aquarium setup,” said Baker. “But being able to look at all the PVC pipe that crystalizes around and swoops and turns, it’s really helpful to understand that.”
Though Baker concluded her internship in September, she went on to work temporarily with the aquarium’s Shark and Ray Touch Tank, and has since landed a full-time job as a floating aquarist gallery member, meaning she works with the Northern Waters Gallery, Tropical Gallery, Thinking Gallery (aka Temperate Gallery), Yawkey Coral Reef Center, and Freshwater Gallery.
“A lot of what I learned in the classroom was super applicable to what I am doing,” said Baker. “When I come to the aquarium, I feel like I’m selling an experience that promotes conservation, education, and research, and it feels helpful to society.”
Weapons Safety Coordinator
Unity College Conservation Law Enforcement students are all well aware of just how important weapon safety is, and for his internship, Sean Lion, a senior Con Law major, served as Weapons Safety Coordinator and Opposing Force Trainer for Reservoir International.
Reservoir International contracts with the United States Air Force, helping to train the 421st Combat Division. For his part, Lion had a lot of responsibility. At every training session, there was a specific amount of weapons issued from the armory, and Lion was in charge of every single one of them, the magazines that were used, and the ammo that was dispersed. He had to ensure everything was accounted for after every training session.
He also had the opportunity to work with the instructors as they taught combat training, which ties in with Lion’s interests.
After graduation in May, Lion is hoping to find work in law enforcement, staying close to his home state of New Jersey, and possibly serve as a firearms instructor.
“I want to teach people to do things the right way, and to ensure that it’s done correctly,” Lion said. “It was a really good learning experience, being able to have some serious responsibility,” said Lion.