Policy Fellow and Intern Spotlight

Ocean Leadership Policy Internship

The Frank M. Cushing Science Policy Fellowship provides marine science postdoctoral scholars and doctoral candidates the opportunity to spend a year in Washington D.C. researching, developing, and advocating for research and sound ocean policy.

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s policy internship program provides graduate students an opportunity to learn about science-based policy activities at the Federal level in Washington, D.C. The program offers 3 different internships throughout the year: Fall, Summer, and Spring.

Read below to learn about previous and fellows’ and interns’ experiences, and how their time at Ocean Leadership has helped them learn about policy:

zoe“Following a Knauss Fellowship on the Hill, working with Consortium for Ocean Leadership provided me a new and unique experience of seeing behind-the-scenes of how an ocean policy and communications team functioned and excelled on a day-to-day basis. This internship immerses you into the fast-paced world of marine policy, and you are quickly integrated as an essential staff member and part of the team. My writing skills and attention to detail greatly improved with guidance from my supervisors, who made me feel welcome and extremely appreciated. I also was able to represent COL at several briefings on the Hill, as well as at an illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing roundtable with the Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The opportunity to expand my policy and science communication knowledge with COL was invaluable, and I regret I could not stay longer!”

–Zoe Gentes, M.S., Spring Policy Intern

wendy“I came to D.C. from California because I strongly believe in the mission of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership: understanding the ocean and its impacts and taking action in support of them. Attending hearings and science policy events was a great way to quickly gain a broad understanding of pressing marine policy issues and the legislative process. A highlight was meeting with Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) to discuss the impacts of ocean acidification and climate change along a stretch of the California coast very dear to me. In the office, I honed written communication skills by reporting on new legislation, and I learned behind-the-scenes policy efforts. While I have a solid background in ocean science, I was looking to gain a policy perspective, and the internship afforded me the opportunity to bridge the two. Overall, this was a valuable learning experience I will take with me in future endeavors.”

– Wendy Kordesch, Winter 2017 Policy Intern

 fullsizerender“My time as a policy intern at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) was an invaluable experience for my professional career. I came to COL with a pure science background but wanted to learn more about the policy processes behind the scientific enterprise in the U.S. The internship provided me with an extensive knowledge of ocean science legislation, how the legislative and decision-making processes work, and how organizations like COL and other stakeholders can have an impact. I was able to improve my writing skills by writing for the weekly newsletter and built upon my professional communication skills by assisting with COL’s social media campaigns.  I also greatly enjoyed helping out with COL’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl by serving on the biology Technical Advisory Panel. All of my different duties and projects that I worked on as an intern contributed to an incredibly well-rounded experience and provided me with knowledge and skills that I will use throughout my entire professional career in the marine science world. The COL team always made me feel like a true team member. They were always there to help me excel at the position and offer guidance and opportunities to further my career and broaden my interests. I highly recommend this internship for anyone who is interested in the policy side of the marine science world and wants to truly make an impact while adding to their own professional experiences!”

– Grace Roskar, Spring 2016 Policy Intern

auroraelmore“The policy internship at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership afforded me the opportunity to put my ocean and climate research background into practice. Through attending congressional hearings, scientific briefings, and meetings on Capitol Hill, I gained a better understanding of the federal government’s legislative process. I also met with Senator Angus King from my home state of Maine, a strong advocate for climate change science, who gave me a copy of his favorite chart illustrating the link between temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide. Overall, the position improved my skills in written and oral communication to a broad audience, project management, organization, collaboration, leadership, database management, and website editing. I now have a broader knowledge about ocean policy and the legislative process.”

-Aurora Elmore, Summer 2016 Policy Intern
Program Officer, Changing Planet
National Geographic Society

intern spotlight picture“I highly recommend the Policy Internship at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership for anyone interested in pursuing a career in science policy. Through the internship, I was able to experience the policy-making process first-hand and to form a professional network in D.C. The internship offered insights into the policy world that I would have never gained from taking classes or workshops. I came in not knowing much beyond the basics of the political system and the policy-making process, but quickly learned the current state of ocean related legislation and the stakeholders involved in shaping them. Through attending hearings and briefings on the Hill and writing for the weekly newsletter, I greatly improved my writing and communications skills. The team at Ocean Leadership was very welcoming and I made me feel an integral part of the team.”

– Tamaki Bieri, Ph.D, Fall 2015 Policy Intern

Nick Hunt Summer 2015 Policy Intern“The Policy Internship at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) was an extremely valuable and education experience, I would suggest it to anyone who wants to get their foot into the policy sector. I come from a hard ocean science background, having conducted research for years, and recognize the importance of communicating research findings. This internship provided me with a first-hand policy experience, networking opportunities, and experience what it’s like working at a nonprofit in the Washington, D.C. policy sector. I gained a firm understanding of current legislation governing our marine resources, as well as broadened my own interests by composing the weekly newsletter. The team at COL is extremely welcoming, passionate about their work, and provided many opportunities for me to further my career. All of this and more contributed to a fantastic experience working at COL!”

– Nick Hunt, M.A., Summer 2015 Policy Intern

Angela_Sea cucumberAs a marine scientist I was completely engrossed in my research with little understanding of how it might help shape ocean policy. While I was aware of the importance of policymaking and had the desire to bridge that gap in understanding, I basically had no clue where to start or how to engage in the legislative process. For these reasons I applied for the internship at Ocean Leadership (OL), and I’m glad I did as my experience at OL far surpassed the expertise that I thought I would gain as a policy intern! I must admit that coming from a research background with no knowledge of the U.S. political system (I’m Canadian) made this internship a steep learning curve for me, but being immersed in the field alongside supportive team members really helped me obtain a firm grasp of ocean policy and the legislative process. I not only saw how laws were made, but also gained an understanding of scientist involvement in this process. Most importantly, the dedicated team at OL continuously presented me with unique legislative opportunities; aside from my weekly tasks, I participated in Hill meetings, read and commented on science related bills to Congress, directly liaised with Congressional staff members to schedule Hill meetings, and helped plan the Public Policy Forum on a highly stimulating topic, “Predicting and Preparing for a Changing Arctic.” These activities not only helped me apply the knowledge that I harvested at OL, but also gave me a voice (as an ocean scientist) in Congress.

Engaging in ocean policy is something I will continue to do as I return to academia since I truly believe that research and policy go hand in hand. By bridging the gap between ocean policy and science, this internship has placed me in a better position to help shape scientifically sound policies. In view of these facts, I highly recommend that scientists participate in the OL policy internship.”

– Angela Stevenson, Ph.D., Spring 2015 Policy Intern

CEdwards“My internship with Consortium for Ocean Leadership was an incredibly valuable experience. My primary goal was to gain a deeper understanding of how the federal government operates, which is exactly what I got and more. In just three months, I learned a great deal not only about ongoing ocean-related issues and Congressional operations, but also about my own professional development. My supervisor was (and still is) very much a mentor for me and was interested in helping me grow professionally once I left COL. In fact, all of the staff I interacted with at COL were very welcoming and never did I feel like ‘just an intern’.”

– Courtney Edwards, Summer 2014 Policy Intern

GDavenport“The Policy Internship was truly a great experience for me! Prior to the internship, I was involved with grassroots organizations that focused on ocean conservation issues and policies. However, having the opportunity to learn more about legislation pertinent to ocean sciences, compose the weekly newsletters, and assist with the 2014 Policy Forum was invaluable. I enjoyed working with a dedicated team of policy experts and learning more about the different scientific programs. The experience ultimately led me to work for Congresswoman Shea-Porter, who serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.”

-Gina Davenport, Spring 2014 Policy Intern
Office of the Assistant Administrator
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Alli Hays“I loved my time at Ocean Leadership. I gained invaluable experience and left with a solid understanding of policy and management issues facing today’s oceans and coasts. I can’t say enough about Ocean Leadership’s employees, who are all knowledgeable and passionate about their work. I enjoyed going to work every day and am proud to have interned for such an effective organization.”

– Allison Hays, M.S., Fall 2013 Policy Intern
Communications and Policy Specialist
Consortium for Ocean Leadership

AMartin“The Policy Internship at Ocean Leadership helped launch my career in the marine policy arena. The internship provided me with a deeper understanding of the political processes in Washington, DC, especially through the opportunity to attend hearings on the Hill and tracking ocean legislation. Through the activities that I was responsible for, including writing the policy section of the weekly Ocean News Weekly and updating the Legislative Tracker, I saw myself making a real impact on advancing ocean science communications to the general public. My time at Ocean Leadership inspired me to apply to the NOAA Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, where I am working on marine policy issues at the Department of Energy.”

– Alexis Martin, Summer 2013 Policy Intern
Knauss Marine Policy Fellow

Stuart-Goldberg_adj_100px“The Frank M. Cushing Fellowship was a great experience that allowed me to work on the impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish, a topic that I am very passionate about. The transition from the academic research lab setting to the fast-paced D.C. atmosphere of environmental policy required me to jump in head-first during my Cushing fellowship. While daunting at first, the goals that I set for my fellowship year forced me to move outside of my comfort zone and become better at networking and communicating scientific and outreach objectives. Over time, I regularly communicated with federal agency program leaders at NOAA and USDA, developed a strategic partnership with another non-profit (The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership), led a meeting between shellfish stakeholders and USDA program leaders, and even led an in-person meeting between a shellfish stakeholder, an expert scientist, and a congressional member on Capitol Hill. It truly was an enlightening experience that helped me grow both as a scientist and a person by providing me the mechanism to develop and refine key professional skills.”

– Stuart Goldberg, 2012 Cushing Fellow
Postdoctoral Scholar
Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

“My internship at Ocean Leadership provided me with invaluable knowledge of the federal policy world. I started this internship after finishing my Ph.D. in Marine Science in hopes of learning more about the policy aspect of science and science funding. I also wanted to gain skills and knowledge to become a more informed and effective scientist and communicator. My experiences at Ocean Leadership definitely fulfilled these expectations. Also, I was fortunate to be in DC at a particularly exciting time. I was able to help with the Congressional Welcome Reception and the 2011 Public Policy Forum, as well as observe first-hand the new Congress in action and the beginning phases of the National Ocean Policy implementation. My next step will be taking my new expertise back to the academic realm, as I will be starting a faculty position soon after my internship ends.”

– Christine Cass, Spring 2011 Policy Intern
Assistant Professor
Oceanography Department, Humboldt State University

Sarah Flores“Being a policy intern at Ocean Leadership was one of the most significant experiences I have ever had. The internship allowed me to better understand how policy is made at the national level and become more engaged with the pressing issues of marine policy. Throughout my internship I received exceptional mentorship; I continuously felt challenged, and was provided with many opportunities to contribute my work and ideas in a meaningful way. I would have never been able to get this kind of experience in an academic setting. My experience at Ocean Leadership was so positive that since my internship, I have decided to pursue further professional opportunities in marine policy.”

– Sarah Flores, Summer 2010 Policy Intern
Graduate Student of Geology
University of California, Davis

Alex Renaud“I had a fantastic experience working for Ocean Leadership. The staff and office environment really make you feel part of a team that is a major player at the crossroads of science and policy. The tasks I worked on mattered, and I saw immediate results as an edited letter went out the door to an important official, or something I just wrote appeared in the weekly newsletter. I especially enjoyed helping to prepare for the Public Policy Forum and getting the chance to interact with some of the nation’s leading ocean experts and top decision makers. Ocean Leadership staff members were wonderful to work with and they gave me amazing feedback. As a result, I always could feel proud of my accomplishments at the end of the day and I made great strides in my own professional development.”

– Alex Renaud, Spring 2010 Policy Intern
Union of Concerned Scientists
Program Assistant, Scientific Integrity Program

Heather Havens“My experience with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership allowed me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of ocean policy and the legislative process. I enjoyed attending legislative hearings and scientific briefings on the Hill. I also appreciated the connections that I made with the Ocean Leadership team. I highly recommend the internship for students who are interested in pursuing a career in ocean policy.”

– Heather Havens
Knauss Sea Grant Legislative Fellow

“I interned with Ocean Leadership’s policy department while pursuing a Master’s degree at Florida State University. I had a great experience, which ultimately led to me getting a job at Ocean Leadership. I had the opportunity to help host the Public Policy Forum, schedule and attend meetings on the Hill to advocate for ocean issues, and attend Climate Change hearings. Not only did I get to learn the basics of the federal system and actively participate in the government process, but I was part of a team that had the common goal of advancing science-based ocean policy.”

– Allison Miller
Program Specialist, NOPP
Consortium for Ocean Leadership

ATTENTION: The Consortium for Ocean Leadership offers Washington, DC-based internships for students at Ocean Leadership member institutions. Over the years, interns have come from a variety of backgrounds, disciplines and institutions in the academic and government sectors and have made many valuable contributions to the mission and work of Ocean Leadership.

Ocean Leadership policy internships are designed to further professional development for current or recently graduated students and provide assistance to the Ocean Leadership full-time Public Affairs staff. In addition to project work relevant to each intern’s research, area of concentration, or degree, each participant will learn about the entire spectrum of Ocean Leadership activities including involvement in the legislative process, projects with various federal oceanographic agencies and a variety of educational initiatives. Legislative activities include monitoring, analyzing and reporting on relevant bills and legislative hearings, developing information for congressional members and committees, attending hearings on behalf of Ocean Leadership and pursuing other items on Ocean Leadership’s legislative agenda. Applicants should have strong written and communications skills and demonstrate an ability to take personal initiative.

Click here for more information.