Ryan Buttone graduated from Rutgers in May 2017. He was an intern at Middlesex County’s Office of planning where his primary task was to georeference historical aerial photographs of Middlesex County taken in the 1970s. Below is his advice about how to find an internship that can be combined with the Internship Geography course.
“Finding an Internship in Geography”
- Ryan Buttone
At some point in our college careers, it will be important to think about what you want to do after you leave school. With geography, the opportunities for careers are seemingly endless as there are so many interrelated fields that geography can be associated with. Based on the classes I had taken, I found the use of geographic information systems (GIS) quite interesting, so much so that I think it’s something I would potentially like to turn into a career. This ultimately led me to pursue an internship opportunity in the field. Whether you know what you want to do in life or are unsure, internships are a great way to gain experience and explore the professional aspect of the life outside of college in anything you’re interested in. With the help of the geography department I was able to obtain an internship opportunity in my senior year working with GIS at the Middlesex County Administration Building in their planning department which has been a great introductory to applying the skills I’ve learned in my classes to real-world situations.
Based on my experience in the geography department, some of the tips that are important to that keep in mind if you are looking for an internship are:
Find Something You Like:
This is a really important aspect of the search. It’s always better to a pursue a career doing something you like because it makes it that much better. With the geography major being separated in three different tracks there are many areas to explore. Though I’m on the environment track in geography I was encouraged to take Geographic Information Systems, a techniques class, in the fall which I really enjoyed. It gives a great introductory overview of using ArcGIS software and the different mapping techniques and analysis that can be applied. I started to become more interested in it after that I took another class where I was able to use the skills I had previously learned a little more in depth.
Take Advantage of Rutgers Resources:
Sometimes it may seem like the hardest part about the internship process is actually finding one, especially in geography. Looking at various postings on career-related websites is always a good way to find out about internships. Nowadays most allow you to create an account an tailor your searches towards your interest. However, some of the best opportunities can be found from postings throughout campus. The geography department has tons of postings on bulletin boards about jobs and internships. I saw a few that looked interesting that I ended up applying to Along with consulting staff in the department, Rutgers Career Services can be a great help in this ordeal. Their website provides many useful links for tips and resources for finding internships. One service that I found particularly useful was the drop-in resume critiques. On every campus, they allow students to come in with a resume and a representative will provide feedback on how to improve it so that it’s ready to submit to potential employers. Through this I learned some important tips like how it works to tailor your resume towards the specific job or internship you are applying for. In my case, because I wanted to pursue an opportunity working with GIS, it helped to include relevant classes that I had taken and the skills I learned through them pertaining to GIS. This allows employers to gain a understand your skills and could give you a competitive edge as it shows level of experience. Also, don’t be afraid to apply to an internship because your skills don’t necessarily match the ones a company says they are seeking in the job description. I had limited experience using GIS, wanted to learn more about it. As an intern you’re more than likely trying to gain experience working in a field so don’t think you should be a professional going in.
CHECK YOUR EMAILS!!!
This one is kind of specific to the geography department, but it’s probably one of the most important. During the school-year you’ll find yourself receiving a lot of emails about random things whether it’s student discounts or crime alerts. I’d imagine if you’re in the process of finding an internship you’d probably be checking it often, but a lot of the time students don’t check their accounts unless they are expecting something. However, it is important to keep up to date on these because they may actually be the key to an opportunity. If you are a geography major or minor then you’re probably on the e-mail mailing list. Throughout the year staff are constantly sending out e-mails about job and internship opportunities. The department never stops trying to help you even when school is over so make sure to check during the summer months as well because more than likely the e-mails will still be rolling in. Personally, I found my internship through an email sent out in the summer.
Save Your Work
If you are given the able to receive an internship, especially if it involves GIS-related tasks other than being attentive and it is always important to save whatever work you have completed. With GIS, many different skills and analyses are being applied to a variety of different projects. During my internship, my task was to georeference historical aerial photographs of Middlesex County in 1974 so that the planning department would be able to observe land use changes over time and share the data digitally throughout their database. At the culmination of the internship I created a mosaic image of all of the photographs (right). I learned that being able to visually display what you’ve done will help future potentially employers set you apart from other applicants, whether this projects in a work environment or a classroom.