Internship Program

The opportunity for a student to successfully complete an environmentally related internship is considered an integral part of the curriculum of the Environmental Studies Program at UCSB.

Since 1973 more than 3,100 students have earned academic credit for internships through the Environmental Studies Internship Program (ESIP). The ESIP is one of the largest department run internship programs on campus and is fully supported by the ES faculty. It is geared to help ES students obtain valuable professional experience in an environmental field(s) of their choice. Both past ES students and community professionals see internships as a vital bridge between academic course work and its practical applications, so don't miss this opportunity to enhance your environmental education!

Although not a required course, each year over 100 junior and senior ES and Hydrologic Sciences students received academic credit (ENV S 192) by completing internship positions locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. Positions are generated and listed by the Environmental Studies Internship Coordinator via the the ESMail e-mail listserve as well as through consultations with students to discuss what appropriate internships would meet their learning objectives.  UCSB student are fotunate as both UCSB and the Santa Barbra community has a rich history of strong community support for the environment. Click here to view a list of  some of the many campus groups, clubs, and organizations, as well as local Santa Barbara agencies, organizations, and companies that offer a vast array of opportunities for interested students to get involved.

Students interested in pursuing an internship are encouraged to download and read the ESIP Internship Handbook - Part 1 (.pdf) as it provides detailed information about the policies and procedures students need to follow to obtain an academic internship through the ESIP.

Students are also strongly encouraged to attend a general ES Program internship information meeting held within the first two weeks of each academic quarter (check with the ES Peer Advisors for meeting times and dates).  Both the ES Peer  and Academic Advisors are available to meet with students individually to discuss the ESIP and answer any questions one may have about pursuing environmental internships.

If you are an agency interested in advertising an internship opportunity with UCSB ES students please email your listing to the ES Academic Coordinator at or call 805-893-3185.

Why Pursue an Internship?

By far the most common and often successful experiential opportunity available to any college undergrad is participating in an internship! An internship can be so important to getting a job that it is cited by many environmental studies alumni as "the most valuable aspect of their undergraduate experience," according to the Environmental Careers Organization (ECO). Often a professional internship can bridge the difficult transition between completion of an undergraduate education and the environmental job market.

Internships are a great mechanism for students to explore and apply their course work to real world situations. It also provides them an opportunity to see if a particular career or environmental industry is what they really want to pursue once graduated. The skills and experiences a student obtains prove invaluable in assisting them in securing a job after graduation or being accepted to graduate school. Most importantly, student interns gain valuable experience and prove to themselves and potential employers that they can survive in the professional workplace.

Both ES and Hydrologic Sciences students consistently comment that their field and internship experiences enhance and complement their college education and that ES internships often lead to jobs after graduation. Combined with appropriate course work, internships provide a stepping stone to a number of careers in environmentally related fields. Internships can be hard work, but well worth it, as these comments from former interns demonstrate:

“...this internship was extremely enlightening and eye-opening. My attitude has changed and I can present myself in a much more professional manner. The internship experience is an opportunity no ES Major should pass up!”
-- intern with the SB County Dept. Resource Management

“Internships are extremely valuable because they let one know if it’s the right field for them or not. It stops the mistake of going into a career with blinders on.” -- intern with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  

Who May Participate in The ESIP:

The Environmental Studies Internship Program is open to sophomore, junior or senior ES and Hydrologic Sciences majors with at least a 2.75 GPA (a waiver petition is available for those students under 2.75). A large majority of the students majoring within the ES Program complete at least one internship, while many students go on to complete multiple internship opportunities before graduating. Students enrolled in the ESIP course (ENV S 192) receive upper-division credit for their internship. Interns must work under the direction of a ES faculty advisor as well as the Internship Coordinator. Non-ES majors are also welcome to enroll in ENV S 192 if their home department does not offer internship credit (must complete the non-major waiver form).

ESIP Units and Requirements:
Academic credit is awarded on a Pass/No Pass format. The units vary according to the number of internship hours fulfilled by the student. For every 30 hours completed during an internship, one unit is given. ES and Hydrologic Sciences majors receive up to a total of 12 upper-division College of Letters and Science units, of which no more than four may apply towards their major requirements. Hours for any one internship opportunity may be spread over one to three quarters, depending on the requirements of the agency and the time commitment by the student. The ESIP runs year round and students can obtain and complete an internship at any time, including the summer.

In addition to the field work and hours completed by the student, interns must also satisfy five other requirements to receive a passing grade: write a weekly reflective journal, complete and turn in a mid-quarter question set, attend the mid-quarter seminar meeting, a final question set, and turn in the completed Intern and Agency final evaluation forms.

A syllabus is provided at the beginning of each academic quarter by the Internship Coordinator. It will list the times, dates, and rooms in which the mid-quarter and final seminar will be conducted as well as the due date for the required assignments. As UCSB follows the quarter system with an additional session in the summer, students who wish to receive academic credit for an internship must be enrolled in the Environmental Studies 192 course by the end of the second week of the quarter.

Two internship orientation/information sessions are offered by the Internship Coordinator at the beginning of the first week and the end of the 9th week of each quarter. Students who wish to pursue an internship are encouraged to attend one of these meetings at least one quarter before they plan to begin an internship. Currently enrolled students who wish to continue their internship for the following quarter must obtain and complete a Continuation Proposal and return it to the Coordinator by the end of the second week of the next quarter.

Tips on How to Search for an Internship Opportunity:

Tip #1: Use UCSB's Counseling and Career Services in Bldg. 559 or visit their website. The following are examples of some of the subjects covered at the CCS's building:

  • Defining Your Options
  • Conducting Career Research in the Career Resource Room
  • Talking to Campus Experts
  • Going On Information Interviews and Learning What Questions to Ask
  • How to Research Unusual Jobs

Tip #2: Visit A Professional Campus Career Advisor: 

The CCS professional counseling staff includes psychologists, most with licenses; advanced doctoral interns completing their training in counseling or clinical psychology; and beginning doctoral practicum trainees pursuing graduate study in psychology. Your sessions with the CCS staff is treated confidentially within Counseling and Career Services. Only with your written permission will the fact that you have seen a counselor or any other information be released. 

Tip #3: Attend One or More of the Free Career and Internship Workshops Offered at CCS
· How to Write a Resume
· Interview Skills
· Job Search Tips

Tip #4: Use the CCS's Career Resources Room

Great for students who are trying to figure out a major, research internships, careers or find jobs.
Located inside the CCS's building (PinkCen), stop first at the Peer Desk, just inside the door. The peers know more than anyone about what is in the library. You can save some time by asking them where to find specific information, or feel free to browse. Visit the career advisors in the Career Resources Room between 10-12 and 1-4 (summer hours vary - call 893-4411 for current information). Advisors can answer any quick questions, review drafts of your resume, edit your statement of purpose or help you brainstorm on how to uncover jobs in particular fields. 

Use the resources in CRR. Binders containing information on hundreds of careers, including what professionals in the filed do, how much they are paid, training requirements, whether the field is growing or shrinking, etc. They also have videos, general career planning books, free periodicals, and computers for researching employers or looking for jobs on the World Wide Web. Another benefit of this room is the availability you get to Career Planning Computer Software: 

CHOICES: is a computer program that asks you questions about your values, skills and interests and compares your responses against different fields of your choice. Choices is very user friendly and can be accessed even by people who have no computer experience. An additional feature is that Choices lists both undergraduate and graduate schools and can sort them according to major, location, size and a host of other variables. 

JOBSMART: ( is a listing of sites packed with information about planning your career. What kind of training or education is required? What can you earn? What kind of environment will you work in? What's hot? What's not? Some sites include personal stories from folks working in the field: how did they move (or stumble) into their current work situation? What advice would they give newcomers? 

OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK HANDBOOK: ( The industry standard. The federal government's compendium of job fields, salaries, etc. 

Tip #5: Visit the Career and Job Information Section on UCSB's Library Site

This site contains a Career and Job Information Section with sections on: Self Assessment Resources, Career Identification Resources, Job Announcements, Personal Presentation, and Career SuperSites. 

The Info Surf site also contains career and internship info under subjects such as: Jobs Listed by Company and Seasonal Jobs & Internships.

Tip # 6: Use Personal Contacts, Friends, and Family

Many students feel intimidated or uncomfortable using family friends or acquaintances to line up internship opportunities. DO NOT let this happen to you. Probably one of the most successful methods of UCSB graduates in obtaining their internships and/or jobs has been through personal references. There is nothing wrong with "using your connections." It is just one more resource available to you in search for that perfect internship.

Some students feel that using a personal contact to line up an internship is taking the easy way out. Or a student might insist on finding a position completely on their own. As noble as this may seem, many past student interns will attest, it is often very frustrating for a first time internship seeker with no "real world experience" to get their "foot in the door." Just keep in mind, the "real world" is not always a fair or ideal one, and business conducts itself in a very aggressive and competitive manner. The decision of which resources one uses to located an internship is up to each student, but remember there are hundreds of equally qualified students out there who will be looking for the same internship opportunities.

One of the better ways to explore potential internship and/or career fields is to set up personal interviews with environmental professionals. Many employees within environmental organizations are well aware of the difficulties and decisions a current environmental studies student is facing. More often than not, they are willing to sit down with a student during their lunch break or after work and discuss what they do and how one might "break into" their career field. These one on one information sessions are referred to as Professional Career Interviews. These meetings differ from a regular job or internship interview. Motivated students will set up these meetings with the understanding that they are not interviewing for a specific position, but rather they are interested in obtaining an insight or personal perspective from someone who has already climbed the "corporate ladder." The UCSB Counseling and Career Services Resource Room is a great place to obtain names and contact information as the UCSB Alumni Association each year provides the CCS with a list of UCSB alumni who are willing to talk with students about their careers. The ES Program also maintains an Alumni Directory which is updated every 5 years with names and contact information of over 700 past ES graduates willing to speak with current ES majors. And the members of the Santa Barbara Rotary Club are often more than willing to talk with students at the local colleges about their jobs. To connect with a Rotary Club member in your field, talk with a Career Advisor in Career Resources.