Jeff Hartwig

Student Intern at USDA Forest Service

Name: Jeff Hartwig

Major: Forestry

Year: Junior

Hometown: Boone, IA

Company/Organization: USDA Forest Service

Location: Coeur d' Alene, ID

Describe your internship responsibilities:

I was trained in every aspect of the Forest Service in order to better understand my future position as a Sales Administrator. I attended several district and regional New Employee Orientations as well as intense online registrations in order to establish myself in all the databases used by the agency. Mainly I worked with the Timber and Sales Prep crew to help finish a priority project. I marked and cruised trees for their sale. Next summer when this stand is sold I will be working with the Sales Administrator to learn about contact agreements and inspections to make sure logging operations are conducted as desired by the USDA Forest Service. I also worked with the silviculture crew to conduct pre-commercial thinning exams on 15-year-old clear-cut areas to determine if trees need to be thinned in order to ensure better growth in that specific area. I was also involved with wildland firefighting and was able to help on several fires. Amongst all these activities, I would occasionally travel with the current Sales Administrator and oversee logging operations. Since I have two summers remaining before I graduate, I can expect much more training in other fields as well as Sales Administration.

What did you enjoy most about this internship?
Being trained and exposed to numerous areas within the Forest Service and working outside on a daily basis.

How has this experience impacted your future career plans?
This summer reinforced my belief that this is the organization I want to work for upon college graduation. They have already guaranteed my placement for full-time employment after graduation. I now know just how amazing this opportunity is and how lucky I am to have been selected.

What resources did you utilize to obtain this internship?
I first emailed people in the agency to see what I needed to do to apply. When I received the formal application I prepared a resume and cover letter. To get help with making my cover letter and resume as powerful as I could, I met with Mike Gaul in the Ag Career Services Office. He gave me tips and hints and helped me perfect both items. I then had it reviewed by a staff member in my department. After sending in my application, I followed up with numerous phone calls to ensure that it was received and to learn who would receive it. After I knew who would be receiving my resume and cover letter, I started calling them to let them know that I was very interested and that I had experience which would benefit the agency. I didn't chat their ear off because I knew they had work to do but I did want them to remember me when they reviewed the applications. I am certain by remaining "politely aggressive" with my search that I had the competitive edge over other students applying for the same position.

What advice would you offer to other students seeking similar internships?
Start your search early and send your resume and cover letter in at least a few days before the deadline if possible. I don't know if anyone really knows the difference but if you are serious about a job, you want enough time to make sure they get your information and if they don't, then you will have ample time to send it again. Identify the person within the agency who knows the program and ask as many questions as needed. If you keep inquiring they know you are really interested. Get help fine-tuning your resume and cover letter. Don't have someone do it for you but get help to make sure that what you have is appealing to potential employers. Call and network with people who would possibly be hiring you and state your interests. Once a week or every other week would be good, any more than that may sound too desperate and annoying. These people maintain very busy work schedules and you should learn to respect this. Decent grades definitely help as well as being very involved with clubs related to your major, but meeting all the requirements for the position are the main concerns of the Forest Service.

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