There is nothing like real-world experience and students pursuing internships worldwide say, “Every day is different as an intern.” Focus on what you see yourself doing when your four-year degree is achieved. You will gain not only day-to-day work skills but also an understanding of the social and intellectual skills needed to manage the physical and human resources of commercial or public enterprises.
You might be working in a native plant nursery, building trails or managing crop production, or running educational programs for children. You might help develop a marketing program, make sales calls, monitor crop pests, or do cutting-edge research in a lab.
Plant Science majors intern in a multi-billion dollar enterprise and industry and every student in Plant Science is required to do a three-credit internship.
Internship experiences can be in various forms and will differ from student to student. Some types of internships are research-based, where you work in a laboratory. Research assistantships are available in UF faculty labs, so contact the faculty directly in your area of interest. With a traditional, 40-hour workweek, you could find yourself at large or small corporations, not-for-profits, government agencies, or professional associations. Internships generally last 10-12 weeks.
Emails from the Internship Coordinator, faculty, Academic Program Coordinator and postings on the Plant Science Facebook page and from the Dean's Office are some of the best ways to find out about internship opportunities. Or seek out other opportunities where you live in line with your area of focus or interest.
I worked for Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Every day is different as an intern at the Preserve. You might be working in their native plant nursery one day, then the next day build trails and manage the property, or run educational programs for children. I was able to acquire a great deal of experience in invasive plant removal, nursery operations, and public speaking. One of the best parts of the summer was working with the Preserve staff. They are all very passionate about native plant preservation, and I learned so much from interacting with them. There is a strong family atmosphere at the Preserve, and they do a great job of making interns feel welcomed.
I have had a phenomenal experience interning at Longwood Gardens. As the outdoor display intern, I would rotate between the three main sections of the 1,000-acre display garden. One of the sections had a focus on woody and perennial plants, one section had a focus on vegetables and trial plants, and one section had an emphasis on annuals and natives. By rotating through all of these sections for a whole year I gained valuable experience on all fronts of outdoor horticulture.
There were three projects that were very memorable and educational to me – sheering the large geometric topiaries, planting the spring bulb display, and planting the large summer annual display. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and would recommend it to anyone else.