The title “intern” can mean a lot of different things. You might wonder what it’s like to be an intern at Allen Centennial Garden. Will I mostly be making copies or actually getting practical work experience? We’ve gathered some feedback from recent interns that we hope will help answer your questions. My summary is this: Our goal is to support the professional development of our interns through many hands-on experiences, field trips, and leadership opportunities that will help you reach and explore your career goals.
– Reba Luiken, Director of Allen Centennial Garden
What was the most rewarding part of your internship?
CONNIE- The most rewarding part of my internship was being able to interac
t with guests and hearing them express how much our garden meant to them. I would frequently get stopped by guests expressing their thanks for the work we did around the garden. It made me feel greatly appreciated as an intern and also gave a greater sense of purpose to the work I was doing. I realized how important it was for people to have easy access to green spaces especially in urban areas. While the work I was doing could be very physically demanding, I was continuously motivated by these interactions to continue doing my best.
Why would you recommend being an intern?
PEARL- Being an intern at the garden let me explore many of my interests and learn new skills. The other staff are all amazing and overall it is a fun work environment that encourages your growth. There is a good amount of guidance and feedback but also you are given lots of opportunities to have creative freedom and do things that align with your unique interests. I got to try out so many different things this summer, from helping run public workshops and writing signs to harvesting honey. If you like to collaborate with people, be outside, and try new things then I recommend being an intern.
One thing you wish you knew before applying?
LAURA–I wish I had known how much time we’d be spending with the garden volunteers, because this ended up being one of my favorite parts of the position! They were all amazing to work with, and made the days more entertaining. I learned so much from them, and had great conversations while weeding, etc.
What skills did you develop?
JOSH-A big thing you will learn how to do as an intern is problem solve. Being able to think critically and manage your time properly is important for getting tasks done while saving yourself unnecessary work. You should always be thinking to yourself “What is the best way I can accomplish this task?” Beyond that, you will develop interpersonal skills and acquire lots of general horticulture knowledge.
What’s one thing you did not expect to learn?
PEARL- One thing I did not expect to learn was learning which weeds and plants in the garden are edible and where to find them. We ended up doing lots of programming with edible weeds and plants which was super fun for kids and everyone. I also learned which plants are particularly good for natural watercolors.
What’s the team like?
LAURA–The team is amazing, and definitely one of my favorite parts of the job! Everyone is super interesting to work with, and we honestly feel like a family. I was never scared to ask for help if I was struggling with a task, and it is also nice to always have someone else around in the garden nearby. Eating lunch together everyday was also a nice highlight because we got to bond and just spend time together. It never really felt like work because I was just hanging out with people I enjoyed, being outside, and working with plants & on fun projects!
What did you learn from your intern project?
KAT: My intern project was amazing and I learned a lot from it. It helped me practice grant writing, and project planning and execution, which are great skills to add to my resume. The theme of my project was plant based dyeing, so I also learned many techniques for dyeing fabric from plant material, including how to grow these plant materials. It was such an interesting and creative project where I got to deep dive on a topic that I wouldn’t have had the chance to explore otherwise.