Intern spotlight: Abby Sroufe, Kansas State Parks
"I enjoyed being at the forefront of an innovative change to a commonly performed procedure."
Name: Abby Sroufe
Major: Conservation Science
University: Friends University
Where did you intern this summer?
I worked on a USDA grant with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, stationed at Wilson Lake State Park.
What was your favorite part of the internship? Why?
It is hard to narrow it down! I think there were two facets of the internship that I could say were equally my favorite.
Firstly, this internship included testing out a new way of performing waste audits, which included filming waste contents in slow-motion instead of manually sorting and recording them. This will allow researchers to reference back to the footage in the future to analyze it in a variety of different ways. I enjoyed being at the forefront of an innovative change to a commonly performed procedure.
Secondly, this internship allowed me valuable opportunities to network and make connections with a variety of different professionals in the KDWPT, as well as at PPI and with other interns.
A challenge you faced?
I am not an engineering major, so it was initially challenging aligning the skillset I already had with some of the requirements of the internship. I have five years of experience in marketing for a bank, so while this internship was more in line with my major, it was completely different than any work I had done professionally in the past. I think that the biggest challenge was probably getting over that mental limitation I had put on myself. I had to realize that more technical jobs in the STEM field like this are no different than any other field; everyone starts somewhere. You just have to be open to learning and willing to rely on the more experienced people around you in order to absorb what you can from them.
What was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
I saw just how broad and diverse this field is. I was able to apply more aspects of my professional background than I had originally anticipated, and while I know there are an array of other career paths applicable to my major, I was able to gain firsthand experience in how my coursework at Friends University applies to the field.
What are your future career or academic plans?
I graduate in May of 2023 and plan to look for a full-time position in the field of conservation that may also allow me to pursue a master’s degree while getting started in my career.