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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the application deadline?

There is not a firm application deadline. We review applications and fill positions on a rolling basis. The sooner your application is complete, the sooner we can review your files and consider you for available positions. In other words, the early (qualified) bird gets the internship!


How will I know if my application is complete?

Your application is considered complete after we receive your cover letter, resume, and contact information for three references.


How ​can I make my application stand out?

Be sure that you have relevant coursework/species knowledge. Applicants that have taken courses that include species identification (e.g. Plant Systematics/Taxonomy, Entomology, Ichthyology, Ornithology, Vertebrate Biology, Mammalogy, Herpetology, Invertebrate Biology, etc.) head to the top of the list! There is a shortage of botanists trained in basic plant identification and plant and community ecology. As many of our internships are plant-focused, we are in need of applicants with coursework in botany, especially plant identification.

Make a good first impression! Make sure there are no obvious misspellings or other mistakes on your application materials. Mistakes can detract from your application, since they may indicate that you don't care enough or aren't attentive enough to proof-read your application. Forgoing basic English composition and grammar may be fine for text-messages, but not for your cover letter and professional emails! Not using proper grammar, capitalization and punctuation definitely gives a bad first-impression. Always be professional!


What happens after I apply? The intern-selection process

1. Complete applications are evaluated

Applications are matched to job descriptions provided by our partnering agencies. Selection is based upon education, skills, interest in conservation practices, experience, and enthusiasm. Applicants with the relevant education and experience will be selected to move forward to the next phase, interview with CLM staff and an informational conversation with a mentor.

2. CLM Phone interview CLM Staff

This interview is conducted by CLM staff at the Chicago Botanic Garden according to the following timeline. Typically your files will be sent to a mentor to for review within 1-2 weeks of your phone interview.

Applicant Availability Timeframe  Contacted for Interview
January - March mid-December to February
April - June mid-January - until all positions are filled (typically April 1st).

3. CLM Mentor - Informational conversation

Each mentor receives 3 applicant files to consider for each position for which they are hiring. If your file is sent out for review, you will receive an email giving you the name of the mentor, location, contact information, and a brief project description to help you prepare for the informational conversation with the mentor. It may also be helpful to gain an understanding of the type of work that the agencies are conducting in your field. For example, browse the BLM, NPS, USFS, USGS or FWS websites.

You should reach out to this potential mentor for an informational conversation that will provide you with more specific information on what the internship entail. This is your opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding the internship position, expectations/responsibilities, projects you may work on and also questions about housing, the town you would be living in, etc.

Once the mentor has spoken with all applicants, they provide feedback to CLM staff, who then  determine which applicant(s) are the best fit for the opportunity. CLM Staff will then extend an offer over email. The applicant typically has 2-3 business days to consider the offer and notify CLM staff of their decision. 

If you are not offered or choose not to accept the first position you are considered for, your application will remain active in the applicant pool and you will be considered for other positions for which you are qualified. Applications remain active unless the applicant notifies the CLM Program that they are no longer interested in being considered for an internship or until all positions are filled (typically April 15th).


How can I best prepare for a CLM interview?

The initial interview with CLM Staff serves to get a better understanding of your interests and to acquaint you with the next steps in the application process.


What is the start date for an internship?

Most internships begin mid-May or early June. We also have a small number of internships that start earlier, anywhere from January to April.  Be sure to state the earliest date you are available to start on your online application form!


What kinds of projects will I assist with as an intern?

Projects vary and may include the following:

  • Conducting inventories of and monitoring Special Status species – plants and/or wildlife
  • Collecting data on reintroduction and management experiments for Special Status species
  • Collecting seeds for Seeds of Success program
  • Performing habitat quality surveys for Special Status species
  • Conducting surveys and eradicating invasive species
  • Performing habitat restoration
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping
  • Conducting literature searches for Endangered Species Act consultations 
  • Mapping landscape features using GPS
  • Developing Special Status handbooks
  • Reintroducing Special Status species
  • Writing environmental assessments and components of land-use plans, updating endangered species lists, and creating web sites
  • Maintaining trails and recreational areas


Where will my internship be located?

Internship locations change each year. The vast majority are based with the Bureau of Land Management and are located throughout the western United States. Limited positions may be available in the midwestern and eastern United States, but this varies each year.


Is there a posted list of internship positions?

Because internship positions vary by year and time of year and are dependent on various funding sources, we do not post a list of internship positions. We ask that applicants provide any preferences for the focus and location of an internship on their application. We then work to place selected applicants in positions that fit with their skills and preferences.


Can I choose the location?

Applicants who are flexible with location preferences are most likely to be placed. If you are restricted to a particular region, you will be able to indicate this on your application form. We do our best to accommodate applicants with geographic restrictions.


What are the housing options for interns?

The CLM program does not provide housing for interns however, your salary is intended to be used to cover your living expenses.

While you must find your own housing, your mentor should assist you with this process by providing information on specific housing options that may be available to you - be sure to inquire directly with them if you need help! Most interns rent an apartment or a room in a home. A few field offices have seasonal housing options (cabin or trailer) that is typically offered at a lower cost.


Is reimbursement provided for relocation expenses?

The Chicago Botanic Garden does not provide reimbursement for costs associated with relocation for internships. 


Do I need to bring a car?

A car is not a necessity for performing your internship, and you will not be required to use your personal vehicle for work purposes. However, the majority of internships are in remote locations and small towns which will not necessarily have banks, grocery stores, shops, or entertainment venues nearby. It is strongly encouraged that interns bring their own vehicles. This enures that interns will not need to rely on coworkers, mentors, or other CLM interns for personal travel and travel to and from work.


What do interns gain from the CLM Training Workshop?

  • Networking, bonding, knowledge, and a support group 
  • New skills and preparation for the internship 
  • Readiness to step into the role of a practical conservation field worker 
  • Valuable experience working for a government agency 
  • Familiarity with planning, organizing, and completing work projects 
  • Familiarity with the roles of the government agencies 
  • Ability to prepare biological assessments and reports


How can an undergraduate student prepare to be competitive for a CLM Internship after graduation?

Please go to our Information for Undergraduates page to read how you can best prepare to be competitive for a CLM Internship.


Are there special opportunities for underrepresented groups?

The CLM Program is committed to providing internship opportunities to members of groups that are underrepresented in the STEM fields. To help us help you, please make sure you have provided the your ethnicity information.


Can I apply if I am not a US citizen?

Unfortunately, CLM Internships are only open to US citizens. The majority of the funding for our internships comes from federal agencies, most of whom require that we hire US citizens.  At this time, there's quite limited flexibility in this requirement. However, this may change in the future so feel free to inquire in future years. 


Is there an age restriction for interns?

There is no age restriction for applying to the CLM Program. Funding for some of our internships is intended for hiring “youth”, ages 22-30, but this age restriction does not apply to all of our opportunties. Please note that you must have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree in a relevant field and have relevant experience and most interns start soon after finishing their degree.


Can I apply for an internship if I am a former intern?

Yes, we accept applications from former interns! For those who are re-applying, you will need to complete a new online application, which will require you to provide an updated cover letter and resume. Any letters of recommendation and transcripts received with your 2018 field season application are still on file and can be added to your 2019 field season application.  We will not transfer any letters of recommendation or transcripts from any field seasons prior to 2018.  If you have acquired recent experience related to your application, please ask that a person familiar with your work submit an additional letter on your behalf as well.  ** Please note that a letter from a recent reference is always best so consider requesting one of the three letters from someone who can speak to the experiences and skills you gained in the last year.


If I applied in a previous year, do I have to resubmit all documents to be considered for an internship this year?

For those who are re-applying, you will need to complete a new online application, which will require you to provide an updated cover letter and resume. Any letters of recommendation and transcripts received with your 2018 field season application are still on file and can be added to your 2019 field season application.  We will not transfer any letters of recommendation or transcripts from any field seasons prior to the 2018 application (1 year ago).  If you have acquired recent experience related to your application, be sure to add this new reference to your application form so they can submit a letter on your behalf.


How is the program’s success measured?

Interns and mentors complete questionnaires to provide valuable feedback. This feedback is used to fine-tune and improve the program each year.

Other success measures include:

  • Some interns are hired in a permanent capacity by the agency.  Following their internship, most interns find employment with a local, state or federal agency, a non-profit organization, or a research institution in the field of biology, conservation or land management. Approximately 20% of interns return to graduate school to pursue a Masters or Ph.D. Degree. 
  • The program continues to grow with additional internship requests each year.