Fifty Shades of Green: Summers with the IIC

The Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative is designed to provide practical work experience while spending time in the beautiful outdoors. The IIC offers a wide variety of positions for any major, and in the case of two roommates, the perfect summer gig.

IMG_0683Tyler Jaros, a senior studying strategic communications was encouraged by his father, a Forest Service employee, to apply to an IIC internship during his freshman year. Jaros quickly applied and was excited when he landed the position of road engineering technician for the forest service. His first summer was such a success, he continued his internship into the fall and has now been an IIC intern for almost three years.

“At the time, I was interested in engineering,” Jaros said. “Luckily though, as my interests and major changed, I’ve had the opportunity to change and create new tasks within my position.”

That fall, Jaros met his new roommate, Andrew Finlinson, a junior studying exercise science. In the spring of 2017, Jaros convinced Finlinson to join him for the summer internship. Though working for the Forest Service might not seem like a classic fit for someone striving for physical therapy, it served him perfectly.

“It’s just a good job,” Finlinson explained. “It pays well [and] I only have to work every other week so I get some time to myself. If I want the chance to shadow a PT or just relax and do the things I enjoy, I have the off weeks to do that.”

Every IIC Internship is tailored to each student. SUU’s partnerships with state and federal public land agencies like The National Parks Service, BLM and the Forest Service give interns hands-on opportunities. Jaros and Finlinson’s summer internship, was no exception.

The U.S. Forest Service, based out of Washington D.C. asks for reports of every high-usage gravel or native road in the country. Each state park or forest needs to be mapped and critiqued in order to receive federal funding for the repairs.

IMG_0397For their internship, Jaros and Finlinson travel all over the country every other week surveying these roads. They look for attributes like size, ruts, potholes, drainage and other defects to later analyze, taking turns driving and entering data. Though it may sound easy, simply driving around, the 12-hour days are long and exhausting.

“It takes a lot more than you would realize,” Jaros said. “We are confined to the car from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., so by the end of the day we are usually are pretty tired and want space to just unwind.”

Another struggle the two often face is working with their best friend. Spending every second with a person for an entire week is hard enough, but mixing that with occasionally high-stress situations, could be catastrophic.

Finlinson admitted things can get tense after a while. However both quickly agreed that their close relationship was the reason those difficult moments were dealt with positively.  

“[Thankfully], we are honest with each other,” Finlinson explained. “If we get hangry or stressed, we can just turn to each other and say, ‘okay, wow, we need to find some food,’ or ‘I think you should drive for a while’.”

At the end of the particularly frustrating days, the two are grateful to have time for themselves and de-stress. Finlinson, usually packing a guitar, will take time to practice a new song while Jaros buries his nose in a good book. Despite everything, their friendship has only been strengthened through working together.

Especially now, those long days are not seen as trials but fun memories to share. While talking about their internship, the two friends easily began reminiscing their craziest adventures. From getting stuck in the snow to breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

“I remember that one time we had a faulty truck and it kept breaking down,” Jaros remembered with a laugh. “It took us four hours to get back to the hotel. Andrew, I swear, was in the fetal position on the floor of our car.”

IMG_0701Despite the rocky roads and stressful times, now having completed two summers with IIC, Jaros and Finlinson continue to love every second of their internship. Finlinson specifically values the chance he’s had to visit and explore beautiful places all around the country, many of which, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise.

One unique experience they had during their travels was visiting the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The area was closed to the public so the two were alone to take in the breathtaking view. However almost every place they see is beautiful in its own way.

“We always joke about writing a book called ‘Fifty Shades of Green’, because every forest is a different color. Everywhere we go is unique,” Jaros said.

This summer will be the last for both Jaros and Finlinson, as Jaros graduates and Finlinson begins applying to physical therapy schools. Luckily, they plan on ending with a bang by finishing the trails around the Grand Tetons and exploring the peaks around Mount Rushmore.

Their experience in the IIC has been nothing but positive, according to Finlinson. Many of the responsibilities appointed to them, such as trip planning, time management and budgeting  has given Jaros the experience to enter any career of his choice confidently.

IMG_0523Though most available internships focus on biology or geology technicians, other IIC positions are available in areas like finance, marketing and graphic design. All programs are paid internships and credit eligible for current college students, recent graduates (up to two years) and even high school students.  

The majority of the internships last from May to August but contracts are flexible for extensions. Many positions have recently been posted with more and more openings each week.

Students interested in applying for an IIC internship can visit or visit the Outdoor Engagement Center located in the Leadership Engagement Center (LEC).

Story By: Ansleigh Mikesell
Photos Provided By Andrew Finlinson and Tyler Jaros