Skills Development Through Internships at AGU and AGI

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Internships in policy, media and publishing, and education/workforce/talent pool areas at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and American Geosciences Institute (AGI) exist to provide professional work experiences for students. These internships are offered for a period of three months and depending on the group and organization, between 1-6 interns are hired each year. Nine internship supervisors were surveyed to determine what skills were required to be hired and successfully complete the internships. Among those hiring the interns, a geoscience background is generally favored though not required by most internships, with a minimum of undergraduate enrollment or degree is preferred. Despite the varied duties and tasks amongst the internships, writing, analytical, research, communication, and collaboration skills were highly sought among intern applicants.

Fifty-one interns (who held positions starting in 1999) were also surveyed to ascertain what skills were developed as a result of completing their internship. The figures show the skills development of the former interns reporting their perceived improvement in these skills during their internship. In addition, to personal and professional benefits, the interns overwhelmingly reported that they improved their collaboration, leadership, research, project management and writing skills as a result of their internship experiences. Interns who worked in the Education/Workforce/Talent Pool areas noted improvement in their analytical skills which was expected given these interns spend considerable time working with large datasets and as part of their work. In contrast those in the policy or publishing areas indicated very small gains in their analytical skills but had the largest gain in their geoscience knowledge base because of the new information they had to learn in order to write articles, fact sheets, and briefs. Social media tools have become critical in recent years as a way to communicate with the geoscience community about new research as evidenced by the large gains for the publications/media interns. The lower social media skill development in policy interns is reflective of a substantial number of respondents who did their internship prior to the advent of social media.