Ricardo Vargas, an earth science major at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), is eager to acquire new knowledge about the natural world, engage and network with peers, and explore the nation’s capital during the warm summer months as an intern in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Department of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS).
Vargas will be in Washington D.C. from May 29 to Aug. 9 as part of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities’ (HACU) National Internship Program.
A 33-year-old Long Beach resident, Vargas will be part of an NSF team that will be running statistical analysis related to the demographics of students participating in Research Experience for Undergraduates programs to discover long-term trends found in several years of data.
“I will also be given the opportunity to sit in on meetings regarding various grant applications and talks given by grant applicants to get a sense of how scientific research is funded,” said Vargas.
In addition, he will be helping design graphics for several projects, including designs that address AGS’ Challenges and Opportunities program, and AGS handouts for the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting.
Vargas sees the internship as an opportunity to apply what he has learned at CSUDH in the Earth Science Department, and an opportunity to network with potential future colleagues and employers.
“I’m excited to take the knowledge and experience I gain from this internship and apply it to my remaining time at CSUDH,” said Vargas. “I’m hopeful that it will help me when applying to future jobs and graduate school.”
The HACU National Internship Program offers many additional benefits that offset or eliminate common costs associated with most national internships, such as no fees to apply, free travel to the location, paid internships, and housing arranged by HACU. The program is available to students studying in all majors who have completed their first year of college.
The National Science Foundation is just one of several government agencies and organizations that participate in the internship. In the past, CSUDH students have interned at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI, and at the First New York Credit Union.
“I’m really excited about spending an extended amount of time in a new city,” he said. “I’ve never been to the DMV [Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia] area and I will definitely use as much of my free time as I can to explore the region.”
After he graduates from CSUDH, Vargas plans to work for a couple of years so he can add to his resume, and to get an idea of how he should approach graduate school. His “ultimate goal” is to pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor at a four-year institution.
“The faculty have all put me in a position to succeed by challenging me in and out of the classroom. Our course load has given us a comprehensive understanding of important subjects, such as natural resources, ground water, and anthropogenic climate change,” said Vargas, who plans to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in spring 2016. “One of the highlights of our program is its tightknit family atmosphere. I plan to represent myself and CSDUH’s Earth Science Department to the best of my abilities during the internship.”