Staying in Boston- Perks and Pokes

by Ashley Colpaart, RD LD

One of the challenges to choosing an internship is deciding whether to go foreign or domestic. If this decision seems overwhelming, allow me to complicate things even more by offering a third option that worked perfectly for me. Staying in Boston.

After applying for numerous positions in Washington D.C. and not securing my summer arrangement, I began to consider my local options. Since I was a transplant from Austin, Texas who moved to Boston at the start of school, I felt as if I had yet to explore the city in which I had been biding my time. Furthermore, the sun had finally melted the snow, the flora was radiantly returning, and my Boston based friend circle was in full bloom. Did I really want to pack up and continue my life of transiency?

In early April, a position at Farm Aid, located in Somerville was communicated through the Agriculture, Food and Environment (AFE) program. I jumped on the opportunity and fortunately landed the position as an Economic Stimulus Consultant.

My job was to write a white paper on the economic stimulus value of local and regionalized food systems and the utilization of family farms as the basis. I worked under former AFE graduate Hilde Steffey, who was amazingly friendly, supportive and a great preceptor to the organization as a whole. Because their office was going through transition, I worked largely from home conducting extensive research and interviews, as well as writing and editing.

Staying in Boston- The Perks

The timing – One of the best parts of staying in Boston for my internship was not packing up and leaving once finals commenced. I was exhausted and depleted and I just wanted some downtime to play and visit with the friends and boyfriend I had neglected. Seeing everyone finish finals, only to pack their bags and hop planes, made me even more grateful.

The networking – By working in Boston I was able to create a network of professionals in the area from which to draw from during my tenure here. I have been able to access information and ask questions that have helped in my paper writing and projects. Creating a sound network is a great part of the internship experience.

The classes – Staying in Boston allows you to take a summer course or two at Tufts University without paying extra tuition.  I took advantage of this and enrolled in Epidemiology over the summer, which allowed me to choose between a lighter course load or more electives during my second year.

The weather– Okay, so many of the first year students who have yet to live out their first winter is Boston may not fully understand how desperate you get for finer weather come April, but I was more than ready. Summer in Boston offers lots of sunshine in which to participate in out door activities and entertainment. I rode my bike most of the summer and spent time reading in the sunshine at Boston’s many parks.

Not subletting- Most landlords ask for a full year lease when you move into an apartment.  So, if you move away from Boston for the summer you’ll have to sublet.  This can be tricky because many college and graduate students try to find subletters during the summer.  I was glad not to go through this hassle, but if you have to then start looking early.

The entertainment-

  • Harborfest– a six-day long Fourth of July Festival that showcases the colonial and maritime heritage of the cradle of the American Revolution. The award-winning festival strives to honor and remember the past, celebrate the present, and educate the future with reenactments, concerts, and historical tours.
  • Monday Night Movies– These summer movies are free at the Hatch Shell, Revere Beach and numerous parks in Somerville. Last summer they showed Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Rebel Without a Cause, and Wall-E.
  • Dorothy Curran Concert Series– Boston’s longest-running outdoor concert series. Shows are on select summer Wednesdays, and are presented by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at the City Hall. The shows offer various symphonies, Shakespearian troupes and other classical music selections.
  • Harpoon’s summer festival– this two-day, annual event of beer and bands is held annually in early June. Outside and under tents, they celebrate the coming of summer with Harpoon beer fresh from the brewery.
  • Hong Kong Dragon Boat Races– Spanning nearly 2300 years, the Dragon Boat Festival transforms old traditions into an exciting sporting and cultural event, right on the Charles River. Arts and crafts demonstrations. Tasty Asian foods. Free admission.
  • Cambridge River Festival– Free, one-day celebration of the arts along the banks of the Charles River – featuring jazz, folk, Latin and world music performances, dance, art demonstrations, family art-making activities and over 100 specialty food purveyors and craftspeople.

Staying in Boston- The Pokes

Funding- Students who remain in Boston are ineligible for the internship scholarship funds that the Friedman School offers to help students pay for housing and travel during their summer internships.  This makes sense as no plane fare is needed to reach a city you already live in, but keep it in mind if you are considering an unpaid internship in the Boston area.

Making New Contacts- Most internships don’t lead to a job after graduation, but the contacts you make at your internship can be incredibly beneficial later in your career.  If you think you’re going to want to work outside of Boston when you graduate it’s probably a good idea to go there now and start networking.

Once in a Lifetime Experience- Working in DC, going to Africa, or working on remote farms are all great choices for internships. This time in our lives is ideal for checking off those must see and do things from our life lists.  Staying in Boston could be that experience for you, but I didn’t feel I was too far out of my comfort zone.

Sometimes your internship finds you. This is largely why I stayed in Boston. Having done so, I think that it is a viable place to do an internship. Some ideas for positions are:

  • Various Boston Hospitals
  • Groundwork Somerville
  • Farm Aid
  • The Urban Ecology Institute
  • Fitness Forward
  • Roots & Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute
  • Greater Boston Food Bank
  • Local WIC clinics
  • Shape Up Somerville
  • Mass Farmers Markets
  • Edible Boston
  • The John Hancock Center
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