National Mall and Memorial Parks
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the program located?
The internship program is based on George Mason University’s (GMU) Fairfax campus.
While interns will be able (and are expected) to visit national parks in the National Capitol Region (NCR), two to three days a week will be spent on campus.
What do summer interns actually do?
Interns spend the summer working full-time (40 hours a week) to conceive, pitch, develop,
and produce a communication product for the NCR national park system. At the beginning
of the summer, interns are given a communication topic (e.g., “warm season grasslands and climate change”) and assigned a project scale (regional vs. park specific). Working closely with staff at both GMU’s Center for Climate Change Communication and in the National Park Service, interns will learn about science-based climate change communication strategies and have the opportunity to develop communication products tailored to the needs of the parks they partner with. Check out our past projects to get a better look at the types of products
previous interns have created!
What does a typical week in the program look like?
A typical week in the internship program varies over the course of the summer. Generally, there are 2 days out of the week when interns meet with the project manager at GMU’s Fairfax campus. The other 3 days are spent visiting the parks and collaborating with group members. For these days (unless there is a scheduled meeting, speaker, or event), you have flexibility on where you choose to meet with your group members.
The first week of the program is considered the orientation week, during which time you will visit parks, learn from NPS rangers and staff, and hear from speakers about best practices in climate change communication.
The first month of the program will be primarily spent learning the fundamentals of climate change communication and how to apply them to the summer’s projects and researching assigned project topics and developing initial product ideas and a pitch presentation.
After the completion of the pitch presentations (end of June), the NPS provides feedback on the proposed products and interns spend the next month diving into product design, content writing, filmmaking, etc. There will be several rounds of drafting and copy editing to ensure the projects reach their full potential and the NPS will also be given drafts along the way for feedback. At the end of the internship, final products will be presented to the NPS and 4C for final comments and approval.
What does the project manager do?
The GMU project manager is your direct supervisor; the role is filled by a GMU doctoral student who specializes in climate change communication. Over the course of the summer, the project manager will provide instruction in communication practices, act as a liaison with NPS, guide your project development, monitor deadlines, and ensure adherence to the expectations laid out in your employee handbook.
Is this a paid internship?
Yes, this is a paid, full-time (40 hours per week) employment opportunity. Please look at the opportunity notices for more information on current pay rates.
Is summer housing provided by the program?
The internship does not provide housing for summer interns. GMU has an intern housing option, but residency is not guaranteed. While we can offer some information that may help you in your housing search, any information we provide is just that—it does not constitute advice, nor do we specifically endorse any companies/services/lodgings.
It may help you to know that GMU’s Fairfax campus is close to the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU stop on the Orange Line of the D.C. Metro system. Further, interns will qualify for free passage on Fairfax’s CUE bus system with their university I.D.
What are the start and end dates for the program?
The internship begins on the first Monday in June and runs for ten weeks. The contracts for multimedia interns may be extended by up to two weeks (twelve weeks total), as needed.
Can this internship be counted towards my school’s requirements?
We’re happy to work with your university! Previous interns have used this program to satisfy internship requirements—but check with your institution to determine if the program matches their criteria.
Who is eligible to apply for this program?
The internship is open to graduate students, exceptional rising junior and senior undergraduate students, or recent graduates.
Is the summer program limited to specific majors?
Applicants from all backgrounds are welcome to apply. Previous interns have come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including Biology, Climate Science, Communications, Environmental Studies, Journalism, Natural Resource Management, Psychology, Public Health, Sustainability, and Zoology.
Ideal applicants will have a strong interest in National Parks and a positive attitude and interest in learning, thinking creatively, and working as a member of an interdisciplinary communication team.
Can I apply if I am not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States?
Yes. The internship is open to all students who are attending (or have recently graduated from a U.S. accredited college or university. Interns must be legally allowed to work in the United States.
What should I include in my application?
Application packages should include:
1) Resume or CV
2) Undergraduate or graduate transcripts (unofficial copies are acceptable)
3) A one-page cover letter discussing your specific interest in the internship and
highlighting your qualifications.
4) A one-page writing sample on any topic (can be an excerpt from previous work,
such as class papers or projects)
5) Two references with: A) first and last name, B) nature of the relationship (e.g.
professor, employer), and C) contact information (email and phone number)
Do I have to provide letters of recommendation?
No, please do not provide letters of recommendation.
To whom should I address my cover letter?
Please address your cover letter to the current GMU Project Manager.
Can you provide any advice on how to write a good application?
A good cover letter is the most important part of your application. The best cover letters sincerely convey your interest in the specific position you’re applying to and the relevant skills or experiences that make you well-qualified for the role. Some qualifications you may want to discuss include:
1) Your interest in climate change and/or the National Park Service
2) Proficiency in translating scientific information for non-experts/lay audiences
3) Experience with interdisciplinary collaboration
4) Familiarity with client-based work, meeting deadlines, and managing long-term projects in a professional manner
5) Any relevant work developing interpretive or science communication products
(including, but not limited to, experience with journalism; social media; public
relations; archival and museum work; science-education products; or relevant
The writing sample you include in your application should demonstrate your skills in written communication—tone, style, and attention to detail. Don’t forget to proofread all your application materials before you submit them!
What is the application and selection process like?
Applications are due at the end of January and can be submitted directly to the program (NPS4C@gmu.edu) or via Handshake. Initial evaluation of applications will take place during February and applicants will be contacted for interviews in March. Final internship selections will be announced in April at the conclusion of the interview process.
What should I expect in the interview?
Interviews are expected to take around 30 minutes and are conducted over the phone by the NPS Science-Education Coordinator and the GMU Project Manager you will be working with over the summer. Interviews are designed to get greater insight into the skills you will bring to the position and any previous professional experience you have had. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the program!