I completed my first internship (a method of on-the-job training for future professionals) in the summer of 2012 and my second last summer. Take a peek into the details of each!
Summer 2012 Internship
Company: Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI)
About the Company: Based in Anderson, California, SPI is the nations third largest private landowner with almost 2 million acres throughout California and Washington.
Getting the Internship: After responding to a posting on Warnell’s online job board (http://jobs.forestry.uga.edu/) I was contacted by the company and an interview was set up. The first interview was conducted via phone and the second was conducted via Skype. A few weeks later I accepted the position.
Getting there: With such a cool area to explore in northern California I knew I would need a car for the summer. With this in mind I made the decision to drive from Athens, GA to Redding, CA where I was to rent an apartment with another Sierra Pacific intern. The drive took about 3 and a half days. Luckily my sister was available to help me with the drive, and we had a great time crossing the country and seeing some of America’s most beautiful sights.
The Job: The job consisted of variable plot cruising (navigating through timberland using a map and compass to predetermined plots and then taking and recording measurements of trees on those plots) throughout SPI’s land in Northern California in the Sierra Mountain Range. The tools used were a map, compass, Relaskop (is a multi-use instrument for forest inventory. It is primarily used to find height of a tree, basal area of a tree, and diameter of a tree anywhere along its trunk), increment borer (used for determining the age of the tree), and hand held data collector (to input our tree measurements into and then later download onto the company database).
Challenges: The terrain in this region is extremely unforgiving. Consisting of over 100% slopes and thick underbrush in some areas, there is no doubt that anyone who takes this job will be in better physical (and likely mentally tougher as well) shape at the end than they were at the beginning. Identifying western species of trees was also a bit of a challenge but after about a week of cruising I had become an expert. Overall the challenges only add to how rewarding the job is!
Summer 2013 Internship
Company: Plum Creek Timber Company
About the Company: Based in Seattle, WA. I worked in the Joyce, Louisiana office. Plum Creek holds almost 6.5 million across 19 states.
Getting the Internship: First, I applied to all of the Plum Creek internships across about 13 different states. Several different offices contacted me and interviews were set up, some were in-person but the majority were over the phone. I received an offer from the Joyce, LA office and the rest is history!
Getting there: After finishing field camp, I left as soon as possible for Louisiana. The drive to Joyce takes about 9-10 hours from Athens. I was advised that I would have more success finding temporary housing in Ruston, LA because it is home to Louisiana Tech. Ruston is about an hour from Joyce.
The Job: An enormous variety of learning experiences were offered to me through this internship. I was able to shadow almost everyone in the office at one point or another to see everything from silviculture treatments (controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet an objective); to harvesting; to meetings with clients. I also was able to work a large amount with Plum Creek’s GIS (geographic information systems) experts, check on recent planting survival rates, first thinning necessities, and much more. The foresters that work out of the Joyce office have an enormous amount of experience between them as most have worked in the same office for over 30 years. They truly bring new light to the word “guru” when it comes to anything in the production forestry industry.
Challenges: At one point I had the awe inspiring realization that I had sweat completely through a treated, ¼ inch leather belt. Anyone who has worked in, or even lived in the deep south during summer knows what they are in for. Traipsing through the thick under brush of North Central Louisiana while being on the lookout for Cottonmouths, alligators and other critters afforded me some great stories and I would not trade them for the world.
A final word of advice: The more places you are willing to go, the more opportunities you will have and the more internships and eventually jobs you will have to choose from!