Will Baughman, a Master of Environmental Management student, spent his summer as a Stanback Conservation Research Fellow at the Park Institute of America.

Each year, Nicholas School of the Environment students complete internships with organizations around the world. These internships provide valuable opportunities to gain career-related experience and build a professional network. 

Duke Environment recently caught up with Will to learn more about his experience.

What are you doing at your internship and how are you using the skills you've learned at the Nicholas School?

My internship with the institute has dealt primarily with diversity limitations and staffing challenges in public parks, environmental NGOs and the outdoors industry. This work initially featured analysis of the roots of these issues, their present scope and the key features of major efforts to address them. I am

Will Baughman

Will Baughman

currently finalizing a detailed problem statement and needs analysis summarizing my research results and conclusions. My research is ultimately intended to help the institute develop a proposal for an online conservation career map. Integrating insights from prior recruitment initiatives within all sectors, the career map is meant to streamline the recruitment process and increase awareness of conservation careers. This recruitment tool should help address current staffing shortages and contribute to a more diverse workforce, which will be essential as the United States grows more diverse and outdoor recreation increases in popularity.

The skills I have learned at the Nicholas School have proven very applicable to all aspects of my internship, but especially the research process. My in-class experience identifying relevant sources, then using key insights to inform detailed analysis has allowed me to do the same in my internship. My data analysis coursework has been incredibly useful, helping me to understand the statistical methods used in recruitment research articles. Beyond individual research work, I have also used my Nicholas School experience to describe and discuss major components of the analysis in group settings, then present my conclusions.

How did the Nicholas School help you during your internship search?

Last year, I discussed internship options with Courtney Sullivan at the Career & Professional Development Center (CPDC). Courtney helped me identify key interests and drew my attention to the Stanback Program, influencing my decision to apply for this incredible opportunity. 

How will this experience help you in your career? 

I intend to work as an environmental consultant, helping private or public sector stakeholders improve the sustainability of their operations. This internship has given me an opportunity to hone my research and analysis skills, which will prove invaluable in identifying key sources of environmental data, assessing relevant patterns and trends, and drawing valid conclusions as a basis for decision-making. As a result of this process, I have also gained further formal writing experience, bolstering my ability to compose detailed research reports using clear, concise language. Finally, my work has had a significant group discussion and presentation component, meaning I have had to summarize complex data, offer problem analysis stakeholders find compelling and explain why the institute’s solution merits major interest. I believe that this experience will be highly useful in future discussions with colleagues and clients.