How Hannah Miller (20Ox, 22C) combined her academic interests into one outstanding internship experience

I was really surprised by how easily I was able to combine my interests in marine science and communication. Scientific discoveries and discourses are often clouded by technical lingo and equations, and that generates a huge divide between the general public and the scientific community. I was very encouraged to see how the field of science is changing for the better; as we stray away from the traditional view of science as a quiet and independent field, we are simultaneously developing the need for communicators, engineers, coders, writers, filmmakers, and other traditionally unconventional fields to be represented in the world of marine science so that these discoveries can be widely understood and applied.

Hannah Miller

A learning experience that happens beyond the classroom can often be one of the most transformative opportunities for an ENVS student. In November 2020, Hannah Miller 20Ox, 22C, was looking for an opportunity to expand her creative writing skills. As a double major in environmental sciences and English creative writing, Hannah was struggling to find an opportunity that helped support her dueling interests – writing and marine science. During the winter of 2020, Hannah had decided that with her previous experience working in Professor Melissa Hage’s Oxford lab, she would focus her efforts on securing a publishing internship for summer 2021 and had applied to at least six opportunities when an email from the Department of Environmental Sciences altered her course.

Hannah Miller 20Ox, 22C

In January of 2021, Hannah received an email from ENVS about a summer internship opportunity from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in their Ocean Exploration (OE) division. Things moved quickly and in February Hannah received notice that her references had been consulted and according to Hannah, “Each of them expressed how they believed this position would be a great fit for me. When I looked more into the position and the organization, I started getting really excited about this opportunity and I realized how much I wanted to work with them, as they were looking for students to satisfy their organization’s goals of translating complicated, yet relevant, information from the marine science community to a broader audience for a more informed and interconnected future. I realized I didn’t have to sacrifice my background in writing to be involved in the marine-science field I knew and loved!”

As part of the selection process, Hannah prepared for a virtual interview by doing her homework. She searched Reddit threads to find out about working in a government/science work environment, she researched the Ocean Exploration Explorer-in-Training (EiT) position from the previous summer through their website, and she familiarized herself with information about the core values of NOAA and their Ocean Exploration office. During the interview, Hannah was asked questions about her résumé, her experience successfully integrating writing and STEM, her expectations of the position and her availability (the internship was 100% virtual).

In Hannah’s own words: “During this 10-week science-communication internship, I worked with NOAA Ocean Exploration’s Science & Technology and Outreach & Education divisions to satisfy my original internship goal of generating detailed and “evergreen” articles about the technologies used by NOAA OE during their dive expeditions. To create these articles, I not only attended weekly meetings with my mentors and with the broader NOAA Ocean Exploration government office, but I also set up and conducted interviews with different NOAA physical scientists and asked them about their experiences with using technology to explore our sea. My days usually began at 9am and ended around 5pm, and they were full of independent research, writing, and collaborative meetings.

Throughout the internship period, my mentors consistently emphasized the importance of flexibility, networking, and research so I could expand upon my original internship goal and engage in projects that I found interesting. By connecting with internal and external NOAA staff and partners, researching the content on NOAA Ocean Exploration’s website, and following my interests by staying updated with the summer exploration expedition “North Atlantic Stepping Stones”, my internship purpose slowly shifted, and my role became to update the specific technologies that were involved in the expedition while researching the expedition’s biological discoveries.

This 10-week product-based internship allowed me to participate in multiple editorial projects. By the end of my internship, I met with 42 NOAA staff and partners and I had generated 15 pieces of writing that were featured on either internal documents or six different media platforms—their technology page called Exploration Tools, Expedition Features, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and an eNewsletter. At the very end of the internship, I, along with the other 5 Ocean Exploration interns, presented our summer internship experiences for the entire NOAA OE office!”

Hannah truly maximized her experience, creating meaningful connections with marine scientists and professionals, who not only shared their expertise, but offered advice about next steps post-Emory. Hannah’s resourcefulness garnered an opportunity to continue her experience with NOAA for the academic year, now in Fisheries as a Deep Sea Coral (DSC) intern. For Hannah, “After completing my summer internship, I can say that I am now significantly more versed in the academic and professional steps needed to become a successful marine scientist because of the networking and engagement opportunities I participated in. I look forward to using the guidance, wisdom, and optimism that I was exposed to as fuel for my development as a scientist and a communicator, and this is truly something I believe is made possible because NOAA Ocean Exploration is such an interconnected and supportive organization. I am extremely grateful for this internship and look forward to how it intersects with my future.”

As you consider a summer internship, remember it is never too early to start looking. Posts for some summer internships begin in early winter and have deadlines at the beginning of the year. Resources are plentiful at Emory if you know where to look. Emory’s Career Center is always a good place to start. Also, paying attention to emails that are forwarded from departments (like the Dept. of Environmental Sciences) can be life changing, just ask Hannah!

Hannah’s Final Project