By Christy Kondo ’15

Green frog on pink dahlia
Green frog hiding in a dahlia at the Brightwater Demonstration Garden in Woodinville, WA. The garden is watered with recycled water and fertilized with GroCo (a fertilizer mix containing biosolids).

Jobs in Biology can sometimes seem a bit daunting to break into, as experience is a big factor in finding work after graduation. Thankfully, you can grab experience before you finish your time at Puget Sound. Biology major Shelley Stephan ’15 found a fantastic internship with the King County Wastewater Treatment Department that put her Biology skills to work while teaching her new skills that will definitely come in handy later in her career!

CES: What did your internship entail?

Shelley: I worked on a few different projects managing quality report data and got to experience many varied aspects of the organization.

I learned what wastewater is, how wastewater is treated, and how biosolids and recycled water are managed and used. I also learned about the different uses of biosolids, which includes forest application, agricultural application, and as an ingredient in compost. I was also exposed to the communication side of the office’s operations, which is crucial for biosolids, since some of the pubic hold negative views toward biosolids use.

My duties and responsibilities changed depending on what project I was working on at the time. For example, on one project, I learned Farmworks (farming data management software) and had the chance to work with farmers and the project manager responsible for managing biosolids at agricultural sites (such as sunflower and wheat fields, pictured below) in central eastern Washington. I also had the chance to work independently when I worked on multiple forestry reports that looked at the water quality in east King County forests near biosolids application sites. ​

SunflowersCES: How has this internship helped you define your career goals?

Shelley: This internship was the best job experience that I’ve ever had! I learned so much about how to communicate scientific results to the public, how wastewater is treated, why wastewater is important to public health, and how wastewater can be treated in a way to return it beneficially to the environment. I also learned how a typical government agency works, what the life of working a in cubicle is like, and how office relationships and communication work. The experience was invaluable!

Wheat field

CES: Do you recommend this internship to others?

Shelley: Yes! I highly recommend this internship. It really challenges you to think differently, with the public in mind (when writing scientific reports). The office environment in King County is also great, and everyone is generally pretty friendly.

This internship was a lot of work, but it was very worth it. I am glad the school has given me the opportunity to turn this into credit for class. If I’d not had this opportunity, I don’t think I would have pushed myself as hard or learned as much.

Internships are one of the best ways to explore a career and gain valuable experience while taking what you’ve learned in the classroom and applying it to real-life situations.

Interested in pursuing an internship for yourself? You can find part-time, full-time, local and national opportunities on InternshipLink through your exclusive career resources page–both paid and unpaid opportunities are available! Want to go the extra mile like Shelley did? Contact CES to learn more about pursuing internships for credit.

© 2015 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photos provided by Shelley Stephan