Home Archived December 4, 2018

New England Water Science Center - Massachusetts Office

  New England WSC   MA Office Home   Water Data   Watersheds   StreamStats   Projects   Publications   Hazards   About us   Contact     INTERNAL     IT Ticket System




Working With Us

Student Intern and Employment Opportunities

Gain Work Experience with the U.S. Geological Survey

Collecting groundwater samples for senior honors thesis on Cape CodThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides data, information, research methods, computer models, and results of scientific and applied studies to the public, along with local, state and federal agencies. Internships at the USGS can enhance almost anyone's earth-science and environmental-engineering career.

The New England Water Science Center - Massachusetts Office has student internship positions and Volunteer for Science opportunities so that students may gain real-world experience while working on water resources projects throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Historically, both internships and volunteer positions have led to longer term employment with the U.S. Geological Survey and other State and Federal environmental agencies. Many high-level people throughout the U.S. geological Survey started as interns or volunteers. Projects include investigating groundwater contaminants on Cape Cod, modeling zones of contribution to public-supply wells, determining suitable stream habitat, assessing safe-yields of reservoirs, documenting the source of water to public-supply springs, and simulating watershed responses to land-use and management changes. Students will work with experienced hydrologists and geochemists who will teach them field methods and data analysis methods. Computer and team skills are important for data analysis and field work. Laboratory skills are needed for some water-quality projects. Some positions may require extensive field work. If interested, contact Peter Weiskel, Chief of the Groundwater Study Section (508-490-5026).

Here is what some students have done:

  • Cape Cod Groundwater Contamination
    • A number of recent Graduates have assisted in a variety of field activities at the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Research Site on Cape Cod. Activities included sampling a groundwater contaminant plume that is naturally restoring itself, investigating the possible discharge of another plume to a coastal harbor, collecting cores for geochemical and microbiological laboratory experiments, and assisting in natural-gradient tracer tests to investigate the fate and transport of arsenic in groundwater. Office work included preparing for field activities, entering collected information into databases, and graphically analyzing field results.
  • Highway and Urban Runoff Experimenting with an innovative diffusion sampler for sampling contaminated groundwater
    • Recent graduates from several colleges and universities helped design and implement a CD-ROM compilation of highway and urban runoff publications for the Federal Highway Administration. Other interns and volunteers helped with data compilation and interpretation and web-page design.
  • PCB Contamination in the Millers River
    • A student intern collected flow proportional samples in the Millers River, performed PCB extractions in the Massachusetts laboratory, and created cross-sections of the river, coring bed sediments, and fish sampling.
  • Zones of Contribution to Public-Supply Wells
    • A student intern assisted in defining the sources of water to public-supply wells in complex geological terrains. The intern helped with data collection, reduction and compilation, borehole geophysics, water-level monitoring, and input to groundwater flow models.
  • National Stream Quality Accounting Network
    • A student intern designed and maintained a Web page for the National Stream Quality Accounting Network (https://water.usgs.gov/nasqan), a national water-quality program that monitors the Nation's largest rivers. The web site provides information on the current activities of the program and serves data to the public.
  • Watershed Model for the Usquepaug-Queen River Basin, Southern Rhode Island
    • A student intern assisted with data collection, computation, and management for development of a watershed model. The work involved making streamflow measurements, installation of field equipment, up keep of field equipment, downloading data in the field, and entering data into databases.
  • Perennial/Intermittent Status of Massachusetts Streams
    • A student intern assisted with data collection, computation, and management for development of an improved State-wide equation to predict the probability (likelihood) of a perennial stream in Massachusetts. The work involved visiting stream site across the State to make field observations of the perennial/intermittent status of streams.

Find Our Office

Our Massachusetts Office is in Northborough, convenient to I-290, I-495 and Rt. 20.

Massachusetts Office
10 Bearfoot Road
Northborough, MA 01532
Phone: (508) 490-5000
Fax: (508) 490-5068

Pay and Employment Information for Student Interns

Each year the water science center has a limited number of paid internships. Most field work is conducted over the summer, but some opportunities may exist throughout the year. There are always opportunities for work as a Volunteer for Science.

High school students are generally given a grade (GS-level) 1-3, college undergrads are usually given a grade 4-6, and graduate students are usually given a grade 7-9, depending on each persons year in school, academic performance, relevant experience, and the specifications of the internship position. Using this information you may look at your potential annual or hourly salaries.

The USGS has relatively good Employment Benefits for student interns, and these summer internships can translate to a successful career with the USGS. There are also many other intangible benefits for students who choose to work with us.

Feedback from students who have worked with us

"I began working for the USGS in July 1998. Working for the USGS has allowed me to combine science and public service. The USGS experience has given me an understanding of managing projects: including budgets, writing proposals for funding, scientific investigations, working with state agencies and cooperators, integrity in data collection and analysis, and the necessity for public outreach efforts. Through the USGS, I was able to make contacts with other offices and work on projects that interested me. Working for several different projects has given me a broad experience which has made me more marketable to the private sector as well as to graduate schools. No other place could have provided me with the opportunities that the USGS has."
S. Archfield --Northeastern University, BS in Geology with a Minor in Mathematics

"I couldn't have asked for a better internship immediately following my undergraduate education. The USGS MA-RI Water Science Center welcomed me with open arms. As a field intern I worked on a number of projects including a long-term Toxic Substances in Hydrology study at the Massachusetts Military Reservation, a geochemical tracer test that looked at arsenic speciation, an emerging contaminant study on the Charles River, and a nutrient source investigation at the Cape Cod National Seashore. Sometimes we were sampling wells in the woods, or collecting water from diffusion samplers from aboard a raft. Other times we needed to canoe across tidal inlets and salt marshes to get our data. By participating in a variety of projects, I gained numerous skills, and had the opportunity to work with several different hydrologists. Everyone that I worked with was easy to communicate with and more than happy to explain what we were doing and more importantly, why. Most fieldwork was done in teams, where the interns worked alongside experienced hydrologists. On several occasions another intern and I were given the responsibility of collecting field data without direct supervision. In the office I learned to use Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Excel, GIS, and SPlus to compile data. I made several publication-quality figures that will be used in journal articles. It was always clear that I was an integral part of each project that I worked on."
M. Chaisson --Tufts University, BS in Geology

"I worked for the USGS for several years while I was an undergraduate student at the University of Rochester. I acquired and developed many valuable skills such as research and data collection and analysis. The USGS provided me with many valuable opportunities that would not typically be available to students working in the environmental science field, such as the chance to co-author and then eventually author my own USGS publications. While I did the majority of my work on the Federal Highway Project, I was also given the chance to help out with several other different projects. This allowed me to broaden my knowledge and skills especially with field work. These skills made me very marketable not only to other environmental science organizations, but also graduate schools as I am now currently pursuing my Masters degree."
S. Dionne --University of Rochester, BS in Environmental Science

"My experiences on the whole with the USGS were extremely beneficial to my career. I've learned field, office, and people skills to carry not just through my career but throughout my lifetime. In the field I was taught proper sampling techniques, various reporting methods, and shown possible ways to remedy the situations. In the office I was able to participate in many projects as well as in their various stages. I learned how to delegate and negotiate with a project group as well as office personnel in order to successfully complete the tasks at hand. I can honestly say that because of my working experience I was able to get hired right out of school into a very competitive field."
T. King --Worcester Polytechnic Institute, BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering

"Working for the USGS was a positive experience for me for several reasons. First, their work environment promotes professional growth. I worked in a casual environment where my input was valued. I had the opportunity to publish a USGS Report , and the USGS allocated resources to train me in skills such a database design and computer programming. My stint at the USGS also opened up career opportunities for me. I was able to transfer to the National Research Program in Menlo Park where I had my own research project using particle image velocimetry to quantify stream discharge. I am now an environmental consultant in the private sector and employers in this industry have a high regard for the experience with the USGS. In addition, the exposure to the many scientific professionals at the USGS can certainly open up professional contacts for any student that works there."
C. Tana --Stanford University, BS in Civil Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Volunteer For Science Benefits

The volunteer for science program can provide experience, training, and in some cases may translate to a paid job with the USGS. See information on our Volunteer for Science Program.

"I served as a USGS Volunteer for Science in the MA-RI Water Science Center as part of my service-time requirement to obtain the Rank of Eagle Scout. In my volunteer internship I worked with maps, technical reports, and the USGS geographic information server (the National Map), to estimate the latitude and longitude of highway-runoff study sites. I used geographic system coverages including road networks, hydrography, land use, aerial photos, satellite imagery, and digital topographic maps to locate these sites based on available information. I also estimated the uncertainty of the latitude and longitude coordinates based on the ability to identify a unique location or locations that would best meet the information available. The work was interesting and challenging, I received recognition as a volunteer, and the recommendation letter I received will be helpful in the college application process."
D. Begin --Eagle Scout, St. John's High School, Shrewsbury, MA, High-School Sophomore

"I worked for the USGS as a volunteer for science about 4 years ago when the Internet was first taking off. My supervisor, Greg, spent a day teaching me HTML programming, and I enjoyed making web pages for his project during my volunteer hours in the following months. I also earned a volunteer for science T-Shirt, coffee mug, and other neat stuff as I volunteered more hours. Greg provided a good reference for several research jobs I've had since working for him."
J. Condon --Worcester Polytechnic Institute, BS in Biochemistry

"My expectations were met and exceeded. The internship has been a valuable experience. By trying different projects and observing the workplace, I found out more about what I'd like to do in my career and where I fit in the workplace and communications field. My supervisor was exceptional. He took the time to guide me, and realizing that I was unsure of where I wanted my career to go, gave me a variety of assignments to gauge my interest. The work was relevant to my academic goals. I learned ways to effectively translate and communicate information as well as learn how to apply my academic background and make it useful in the workplace. I would recommend an internship with the USGS for career development"
C. Weed --Clark University, BS in Communications

Contact Us

U.S. Geological Survey
Water Resources Division
USGS New England Water Science Center - Massachusetts Office
10 Bearfoot Road
Northborough MA 01532
Phone: (508) 490-5000
FAX: (508) 490-5068


USGS Home Water Resources Biology Geography Geology Geospatial Program

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://ma.water.usgs.gov/about/student.html
Page Contact Information: New England WSC Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 28-Nov-2018 14:14:29 EST