Summer Intern Series: Meet Rachel Banuelos

Written by: Emily Quinn

Summer Intern, Rachel Banuelos
Summer Intern, Rachel Banuelos
The Bureau of Reclamation offers diverse internship opportunities for students interested in engineering, hydrology, biology, chemistry, geology, and much more. At Reclamation, we want to see college students land a job that will fulfill their interests.

Rachel Banuelos from Watsonville, California, is completing her summer internship with Reclamation, and recently graduated from Cornell University where she studied Science of Earth Systems in the school’s College of Engineering.

She found the internship through the Hispanic Access Foundation, and her interest in conducting research with invasive species led her to an internship opportunity in Reclamation’s Detection Lab of Exotic Species.

Rachel’s favorite experiences have taken place while working in the field. She says, “I was able to visit Reclamation reservoirs and collect samples that we would later analyze. Usually we are analyzing samples that are sent to us, so it was cool to see the process of how samples are collected, and do it ourselves.”

The internship experience has taught Rachel a lot so far, and she has only been here for four weeks. She is learning about working in a lab setting, and also about the work Reclamation does in the Western United States.

She says, “Most of my time in the lab is dedicated to detecting zebra mussels, so learning more about this invasive species, and what Reclamation is doing to combat the spread, has been very interesting.”

Working with engineers and non-engineers has provided Rachel with a unique opportunity to collaborate with people from a variety of academic disciplines, and though the work is sometimes challenging, she appreciates the experience and plans to take these lessons with her as she moves into a career position.

Rachel is considering the pursuit of her Master’s degree in Engineering or Environmental Science, and she is also considering a career with Reclamation in the future. She says, “I like the people I work with and the atmosphere, so it would be a fun place to work.”

One of the great things about completing an internship with Reclamation is that students develop an understanding of the important role our agency plays in the West. Rachel says, “One of the major reasons [why Reclamation is important], is that Reclamation is responsible for providing water to millions of people in the West. Water is absolutely crucial, so it is vital to have Reclamation assist in storing and providing water to people.”

Published on July 20, 2017