NOAA's Response and Restoration Blog

An inside look at the science of cleaning up and fixing the mess of marine pollution

Intern in Seattle with the Office of Response and Restoration

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This is a post by OR&R staff Vicki Loe and Janet Matta.

Where would the world be without interns? (Answer: Still in the Stone Ages.) The Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) is no different and has benefited greatly over the years from interns who assist our biologists, chemists, toxicologists, and communications staff. It gives students a great opportunity to learn about what we do on a day-to-day basis and develop proficiency in their field. Interns give us a fresh perspective on our work and enable us to tackle projects that could not be accomplished otherwise.

Mary Swift

Former OR&R communications intern Mary Swift. Credit: Mary Swift.

When Mary Swift started her editing internship with the OR&R communications team, her first large project was to convert more than 300 scientific papers on toxicity from a paper filing system to an electronic database, which the OR&R staff now regularly uses. However, by the time Mary left us almost five years ago, she had gained valuable experience editing many scientific papers and publications, meanwhile raising the quality of our work.

“As a NOAA communications intern during my undergraduate years,” said Swift, “I developed my writing and editing skills, which has helped me in every endeavor since then. The editing skills I developed at NOAA helped me get my next job at a nonprofit and get into law school at the University of Washington. At UW, I am one of the lead editors for the Washington Law Review, which made a big difference in attaining my judicial clerkship after graduation.”

Another OR&R intern, Maxim Levet, a student at University of California Berkeley, worked on legislative and constituent affairs (apply for the 2012 internship in DC, PDF) during the summer of 2011. “I was able to put my skills to good use and I learned something new every day,” he told us. “I would recommend this position to anybody with an interest in science, policy, or both.” Hoping to pursue a career in environmental policy, Maxim’s favorite part of interning was helping draft language for an agreement between NOAA and the oil and gas industry on sharing Arctic science.

Swift also reflected, “Working at NOAA cemented my commitment to public service and convinced me to dedicate my legal career to public interest.”

The role that internships play in connecting students with career possibilities in public service is critical to the continued development of our federal workforce. The Partnership for Public Service [leaves this blog] states that “at a time when our national government needs to fill about 100,000 mission-critical jobs a year, student internships provide the best means of assessing and bringing top young talent into public service.” In OR&R, this includes the importance of introducing students to the ways in which they can develop careers in the sciences, an area with a growing gap in workforce preparation.

Right now there is an opportunity for a college student to intern with OR&R’s spatial data team in Seattle, where they will incorporate Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill response photography into a an online photo management database and mapping application. For details on applying, read the position description [leaves this blog] or email

Janet Matta

Janet Matta.

Janet Matta is the outreach coordinator for OR&R’s Assessment and Restoration Division’s Spatial Data Team. She works to tell the world about how maps can be used for spill response and restoration efforts.

Author: Vicki Loe

Vicki Loe is Communications Coordinator for NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration.

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