A crisp, morning bike commute down the river trail starts each day as an intern at North Idaho College Outdoor Pursuits. Cool breezes greet you at the “office” – a mile long sandy beach on the north end of Lake Coeur d’Alene. From here each day is different but generally consists of teaching on the lake, challenge course programming, climbing wall duties, rental center management, and more. The ambitious can easily get a sailing session in before the day starts and a climbing session at the local crag after work (sunrise is around 5am and sunset 9pm in the summer).
Our Outdoor Pursuits staff challenge interns to develop personally and professionally through immersion in a dynamic outdoor programming environment. Depending on the season, we offer instruction, trips, equipment rentals, and resources for a campus of approximately 3,000 students and the surrounding community in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. While we don’t expect interns to have all the hard skills when they show up, we do expect them to be able to teach most of our offerings at a beginner level by the end of their internship.
Reflecting on their experience, interns consistently express that confidence and voice are what they gained professionally from their time at NIC. In addition to NIC students, we contract programming with local groups – an intern could teach middle schoolers, college students, and senior citizens all in one day. As you know, adjusting the lesson to the student is important; interns get that opportunity every day at NIC.
Beyond the sailing, paddleboarding, etc. we pride ourselves in teaching interns the behind the scenes aspects of program and facility management. We dig into scheduling (interns mostly set their own schedules), gear repairs, and facility upgrades. Interns and student employees will learn to use power tools, grill a burger, and put tire chains on the van when the snow piles up. We try to create as diverse and meaningful experience for our employees as possible.
Personally, interns gain skills and friendships that last a lifetime. We prioritize time for employees to pursue the thing that brings them energy and life. Whether it be a quick sailing session, a day off for a big mountain bike ride, or time to share with visiting family members, we are flexible and know that the health and wellbeing of employees is most important. If the wind is honking, we often put the chores on hold for an impromptu team sail race. If the schedule is clear, we might open late so we can squeeze in a bid ride on the mountain that’s only minutes from the front door.
The community that comes with living in a town of like-minded outdoors folk is the real star of the experience at NIC. OP interns have a reputation in town for being fun and ambitious and will find a community with arms open and eager to take them on new adventures. Through the community mountain bike rides and evening barbecues the team will meet many of the cool people that make Coeur d’Alene a rad place to live and work.
Lastly, the “next step.” An internship experience is one stepping stone on a long path of adventure. While we can help facilitate connections to many places and experiences that an intern might be interested in pursuing after their tenure at NIC, the internship itself sets you up for confidence and success in the next endeavor. Many of our interns have gone on to run college outdoor programs across the country, guide climbing and whitewater trips, ski patrol, and more. If this experience sounds like it fulfills what you’re looking for in an internship, take a shot at it. We’d be glad to have you on the team.