Internship Insights: Aspen Matthews Saving the Manatees

Interview with Aspen Matthews, Management Major graduating in November 2013
Summer Internship with Save the Manatee

DU student Aspen Matthews interning at Save the Manatee Summer 2013.

DU student Aspen Matthews interning at Save the Manatee Summer 2013.

  • What is your role in your internship?

I work under the staff biologist and the Director of Development. They just installed web cams to watch manatees so I’ve been categorizing manatee behaviors and I’ve been editing the clips to be used for educational and promotional purposes. I also help with donor outreach and renewal letters.

  • How did you find this position?

I have been a member of the Save of the Manatee club since I was a kid and adopted a manatee. It is my favorite animal. I am passionate about them, and it’s an opportunity to give back.

  • What were the key factors in you being hired?

I did independent research to find the position, and emailed them to let them know how much I wanted to work with them. I got it because I was interested. It was an informal hiring process. They like me and are keeping me because I’ve shown that I’m reliable and do good work.

  • What do you love about the position? What is challenging?

I love knowing that I’m making a difference. On a professional level, I am getting to participate in all of the components that go into making a non-profit successful—research, financial statements, writing letters. I’m seeing the whole picture instead of just the end product.
I am an independent worker, so having to rely on people to give me projects is sometimes difficult. Group work is something to get used to. I talked to my boss to find work that is more up my alley and whenever I need something new to do I reach out to more people to offer help. They know that I am dependable and reliable.

  • How did DU Career Services help you?

The internship award was a huge help making me make it possible. The weekly Hot Leads email of available internships was great too because I could see what kinds of opportunities were out there.

  • What advice do you have for other DU students seeking to find and learn the most from their internships?

No matter what, try and do something that you are passionate about. My dream has had challenges, but it is worthwhile because I care so much about this cause. Give it your all, enthusiasm, dedication and hard work even if it sucks sometimes. Your excitement will show and then you will get to do more of what you are interested in.
Manatee Redlee

DU student non-profit internship

Aspen Matthews helps a team return 830 pound manatee, Redlee, back to his home.

Always ask for what you want to do. Initially, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to witness this manatee Redlee be released but I pushed for the privilege get to do so. It was easily the highlight of my internship and the reason for all of the tedious office work. I am so lucky to have witnessed such an exciting event. He was rescued early this year because he had been exposed to the brevetoxin released by red tide which gives manatees seizures that can result in drowning. He is so named because of the red tide, so Red, and then -lee because he was found in Lee County. Redlee completed his rehabilitation at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. We were lucky to get a “backstage pass” to see him be prepped for transport (by cheyenne dress head), weighed (830 lbs!) and then put in the truck for the three-hour ride to his releasing destination

  • What is your future dream job? How is this internship helping you get there?

I’d like to be an Executive Director of a non-profit with an environmental mission. In this internship I’m definitely seeing what it takes to run a non-profit, insights into employee relationships, and how to manage the people who you have to help with the cause.

Employer Profile:


Save the Manatee Club is an award-winning national nonprofit 501(c)(3) and membership-based organization established in 1981 by renowned singer/songwriter, Jimmy Buffett, and former U.S. Senator, Bob Graham, when he was governor of Florida.


By Helena Karchere
Helena Karchere Career Services Marketing and Events Manager Helena Karchere