Internships in Environmental Studies

Internships are a foundational form of career preparation in Environmental Studies. These are paid or unpaid work experiences that allow students to “prototype” careers of interest to them for a short period of time, so they can better determine what they might want to do after graduation. During an internship, students also gain applied career skills and develop their professional networks, substantially enhancing their marketability upon graduation. Participating in several different internships is a great way to explore different fields and types of organizations, meet interesting people, and contribute to environmental solutions while still in school.

This Padlet Presentation includes posters by many recent Environmental Studies students about their internship experiences and is a great place to start learning about internship possibilities.

Internship Degree Requirements

Each Environmental Studies degree program requires two credit hours of internship (A.B.) or a combination of internship and research (both B.S. programs). Tuition is charged per credit hour, and students must register an internship for credit at the same time they are actively working in the internship. Details on how to register for internship credit are available through the Elon University Internships & Cooperative Education page.

After a student completes their internship credits, it’s a great idea to explore other opportunities in a not-for-credit capacity.

Where to Find an Internship

Environmental Studies faculty are well-connected in the North Carolina environmental field and beyond, and regularly send internship opportunities to the majors’ email listserv. When seeking an internship, we recommend students reach out to their advisors early and often for recommendations and support.

Many professional organizations also maintain webpages that compile current internship opportunities in their field for student members, such as those below.

Searching “internship” with other key terms (“climate justice,” “corporate sustainability,” “green design,” etc. on general job sites such as,, and can also help you locate a broader array of opportunities.

On-campus internships are also available through Loy Farm and the Office of Sustainability. These can be excellent options for completing your internship credits during the semester and can add breadth to your portfolio of professional experiences.

Making the Most of Your Internship

Especially during a first internship, job tasks often will include at least some entry-level support tasks. In these cases, it can be helpful to reframe the experience as an opportunity to be embedded within a real-world organization.

  • Schedule lunches or coffee with colleagues in the organization who serve in a wide range of roles, and ask them about their positions: What they like best about them, what they do on a day-to-day basis, and what skills and mindsets are most foundational to their work.
  • Ask your supervisor to help facilitate introductions, and if there are specific skills you’d like to hone, ask if there might be an opportunity to incorporate them within the experience.

Second or third internships, especially with the same organization, may provide the opportunity to engage in tasks that are increasingly central to the mission of the organization.

Financial Considerations

Internships vary widely in their compensation. Some internships include hourly pay or a stipend and offer housing at or near the internship location, but more commonly internships are paid but do not include housing; occasionally, internships may be unpaid. Seeking internship sites near Elon or close to family or friends you can stay with and exploring additional scholarship opportunities can help to offset some costs.

If taken during the school year, and within the 18 credit hours included in standard tuition, the two required internship credits for the Environmental Studies degrees do not incur additional fees. However, since summer credits are not included in standard tuition, internship credits taken then incur a cost per credit hour at Elon’s Summer Tuition rates. For this reason, students may seek an on-campus or local internship during the semester to pursue for credit and pursue additional internships over the summer without seeking credit for those experiences.

Huntting Internship Scholarship

The James G. and Joanne J. Huntting Internship Scholarship is awarded to students who are pursuing an internship opportunity in Environmental Studies.  This scholarship is only open to students majoring in one of the Environmental Studies degrees. The selection of recipients will be made by the Environmental Studies Department and the Office of Financial Planning, in accordance with university guidelines and procedures.

Scholarship awards ranging from $50 to $1,000 may be used for any approved purpose that directly supports an internship opportunity including a stipend, room and board, living expenses, tuition, etc.  Financial need will also be considered in making the award.

Applications will be received on a rolling basis (the faculty will review applications monthly and may award scholarships in advance of the final deadline). The 2024 deadline for application submissions is April 19, 2024.

To apply for the Huntting Internship Scholarship, complete the online form here using your Elon email account. For questions, contact Prof. Rutz (jrutz at

What current ENS students and recent grads had to say about their internships:

“My internship allowed me to dive into topics that I would’ve probably never considered akin to my interests, such as circular economy. Turns out, I really enjoy the topic of circular economy and design for circular economy and I’m considering a master’s degree in the topic!”– Valentina Echavarría Vasquez, Environmental and Sustainability Studies B.A., ’23

“It was an amazing experience to plant something at its earliest stage in life and then to later harvest edible vegetables from that same tiny seed that you have been caring for since it was put in the ground.”– Maxwell Ellis, Environmental & Ecological Sciences B.S., ’22

“One thing I learned from my internship was how to develop accessible and interactive programming for local childcare centers about local food education, which they could share with each other, with their children, and with parents to enrich the community.”– Caroline DiGrande, Environmental and Sustainability Studies B.A., ’23