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Hōkūala Kīkaha Kai Internship Opportunity

“Rising Star on the Ocean” Internship

Logo of woman on canoe in water with stars and NOAA seagull overlay in sky

Are you a rising star on the ocean?  Do you love the ocean? Got experience as a fisher or waterperson? Want to help monitor the health of our ecosystems? NOAA is interested in working with our Pacific islands community. Your life experience could be an asset!

The Hōkūala “Rising Star” Internship offers ocean-minded students training in STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) fields, practical shipboard and seagoing skills, and career mentorship with NOAA.

Three researchers drive a small boat on the open water, wearing PFDs that say "Oscar Sette."
Field biologists scan the horizon for monk seals at Manawai (Pearl & Hermes Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Robert McLean.

How about applying for a summer internship to get your feet wet?

Internship Benefits

We’re offering an opportunity for hands-on learning that will prepare you for a career in seagoing ocean science. You will be able to directly transfer your on-the-job training and become a force to be reckoned with on the deck of a research vessel in the process. 

You may have the opportunity to:

  • Learn to use marine monitoring equipment (underwater video systems, oceanographic instruments, sampling and fishing gear)
  • Help conduct dive surveys
  • Participate in small boat operations
  • Adapt designs for marine projects and produce parts with 3D-printing 

You will have the opportunity to complete an independent project and work with a team dedicated to your success

How to Apply

Phase I: Summer Internship

The first phase of the Hōkūala Kīkaha Kai Internship is a paid 10-12 week summer internship experience, hosted by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Young Scientist Opportunity (PYSO). The project for 2023 is pending, but in 2022 our intern helped design an artificial lighting system to improve underwater video-based fish surveys.

Underwater view of bottomfish from a stereo-camera system
‘Ōpakapaka (Pristipomoides filamentosus), one of the species in  the main Hawaiian Islands “Deep 7” bottomfish complex, as seen by the Modular Optical Underwater Survey System (MOUSS) during the 2016 bottomfish survey.

You will need to apply for the Hokuala x SOD PYSO Summer Internship. Applications are currently closed but should open in December 2022 or January 2023.  At this time, applicants must meet PYSO eligibility requirements to participate. Applicant review and selection will take place in (March) and the internship will begin June 2023.

Phase II: Biological Science Aid (up to 2 years)

If you are successful in the summer internship program and a longer term position suits your goals, there may be an opportunity to apply for part-time work as a biological science technician.  In that role, you could progress to assisting various types of at-sea or shore-based operational and technical work in support of PIFSC research and monitoring. 

Small boat operations off the coast
NOAA scientists deploy the Modular Optical Underwater Survey System (MOUSS) to survey for bottomfish off the coast of Moloka’i.  These trips are often done in collaboration with local fishers, as part of the NOAA Cooperative Research Program. Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Alexa Gonzalez.

As a member of the scientific crew, you would help with sea-going gear preparations and might work on oceanographic surveys, fisheries research, protected species conservation, or other marine science activities in Hawai‘i and across the U.S. Pacific Islands region. You will have additional opportunities for training, mentorship, networking, and outreach. The position is designed to fit with your continuing education and will help you find your strengths and interests with the goal of seeking a permanent position with the science center in 2 years or less.

Researchers and technicians deploy an instrument off the back of a NOAA Ship
NOAA scientists deploy a Drifting Acoustic Spar Buoy Recorder (DASBR), which is able to identify individual whale voices as part of cetacean research in the Mariana Archipelago (Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).

If you think a career on the sea sounds interesting and you’re willing to work hard to make it happen, this could be the perfect chance to make marine science your field and directly impact the future of the oceans.

More Information

For questions or application timeline reminders, please send all inquiries to hokuala.internship@noaa.gov.

The internship has been named the Hōkūala “Rising Star” Internship Program, in memory of Hōkūala Kari Johnson, an inspirational NOAA program lead in the Pacific Islands region who passed away in July 2020. The full program name, “Hōkūala Kīkaha Kai,” means “rising star skimming/soaring across the ocean” and describes a guiding star to mariners at sunrise. It is a tribute to her love for the sea, selfless mentorship, community engagement, and constant aspiration and actions to lift others up and help them find their way. We thank Kepā Maly, of Hawai‘i Island, for his assistance with the translation.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on November 03, 2022