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Fall 2006 Issue
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Internships at NOLS
A Path Worth Taking
By Jim Sherwin


Listening to Chelsea Eakin describe why she wanted to be a NOLS intern, one might think she’s describing why she wanted to attend a NOLS course: the opportunity to work with a team, pursue her love of the outdoors and test her capabilities in an environment that encourages initiative and leadership. Chelsea’s responsibilities as an alumni intern are typical of an office—answering questions, providing contact information, managing alumni talks—but incorporate the principles that dictate a backcountry excursion.

Chelsea’s story is not unique. Most interns say that their internship is a natural extension of their NOLS course and a marriage of common interests. Marketing Intern Will Barkan says impressions from his WMI and NOLS courses were deep enough to lure him back out west from Washington D.C. so he could reconnect with NOLS and simultaneously explore a new professional path. “I already knew what NOLS was like from a student’s perspective,” Will explains, “but the long-term vision, internal workings, and the people who keep NOLS afloat were new to me. I’ve enjoyed being a part of it.”

NOLS internships cover a range of skills in a variety of locations. Missy Pinney considered positions that complemented her degrees in mathematics and accounting as well as her NOLS Semester in the Southwest. “I wanted a job that challenged me,” says Missy, “within a company I believed in.” By pursuing an internship at NOLS Rocky Mountain that stood beyond her realm of expertise, Missy strengthened her ties to outdoor education and broadened her marketability for future jobs.

After spending between ten weeks and six months interning for a department, some interns leave NOLS with a new set of goals and the experience to achieve them. Others, like Missy, become permanent NOLS employees. She’s joined the ever-growing list of NOLS interns who have stepped into staff positions: Instructor and NOLS Southwest Assistant Branch Director Lindsay Nohl; Writer, Editor and Book Publishing Coordinator Joanne Kuntz; Word of Mouth Coordinator Kary Sommers; Instructor and NOLS Professional Program Coordinator Nate Hintze.

That all NOLS internships are at locations populated with outdoor enthusiasts adds to their appeal. Departmental meetings are routinely followed by long bike rides or fly fishing trips. Brian Fabel, former intern and current NOLS Professional Training administrative assistant, frequents the famed Sinks Canyon to climb after a day at the office. There are few learning experiments that are as conducive to personal and professional growth as a NOLS internship.

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