Creating the Perfect PD

Time to Write Your Position Description?

Here’s a great example and some helpful hints for creating your own.

Position Title:

Interpretive Intern [IMPLY RESPONSIBILITIES AND PROVIDE CONTEXT WITH YOUR TITLE]

Position Description:

Come join our seasonal staff at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on the Tongass National Forest in Juneau, Alaska! [HOOK THEM WITH YOUR LEAD SENTENCE; IN THIS CASE, WITH THE ALLURING LOCATION] The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center includes the center plus approximately 40 surrounding acres. Our mission is to further visitors’ knowledge and enjoyment of glacial phenomena and the surrounding environment. [RELATE THE OBJECTIVE OF THE SITE OR INTERNSHIP] You will enhance the experience for many of our 400,000 cruise ship passengers and thousands of independent travelers annually. [EXPLAIN THE INTERN’S ROLE] The Mendenhall Glacier is one of Alaska’s top attractions, largely due to an easily accessible glacier and excellent wildlife viewing, including black bears and spawning salmon. [PROVIDE A UNIQUE TIDBIT ABOUT THE SITE]

Duties Include:

  • Staff and continue to develop the Discovery Zone, a youth-focused outdoor activity station (30%).
  • Develop and present short formal interpretive programs (30%).
  • Provide roving interpretation on topics ranging from glaciers to wildlife, such as black bears and salmon (10%).
  • Staff information stations to answer visitor questions (30%). [PRESENT THE DAY-TO-DAY DUTIES IN PERCENTAGES]

Anywhere from 6 to 20 people staff the Visitor Center at one time. [DESCRIBE YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK, AS APPLICABLE] The work week will be 5 days, 8 hours per day, and will include evening and weekend work. Conditions often require working outside in wet, cool, rainy weather and long periods of standing each day. [INCLUDE WORK SCHEDULE AND CONDITIONS] This position is ideal for outgoing individuals or those looking to obtain the skills needed for a career in the visitor services sector. [SUGGEST THE SKILLS, INTERESTS OR BACKGROUNDS APPLICABLE TO THE POSITION]

Service Location Description:

The Tongass National Forest was established in 1902 and covers nearly 17 million acres in Southeast Alaska. The Tongass makes up ninety percent of Southeast Alaska and is a land of glaciers, mountains, waterways and thousands of islands separated by straits and channels. The islands and mainland create 11,000 miles of shoreline where regal mountains rise from the tidewater to overlook a mostly undeveloped and isolated landscape. [DESCRIBE THE IMMEDIATE AND SURROUNDING AREAS] The geography of the Alexander Archipelago presents a transportation challenge and most of the Tongass is isolated from the continental road system. Visitors arrive by cruise ship, ferry or commercial airplane. The town of Juneau, with full amenities, is an 11 mile drive from the Visitor Center. [STRESS THE MOST APPEALING OR EXCITING ASPECTS OF YOUR SITE TO MAXIMIZE APPLICANT INTEREST]

Training Opportunities:

Two weeks of preparatory training including: safety topics, CPR/First Aid, interpretive program development, natural resource training, and visitor center operations. [HIGHLIGHT THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL SETS INTERNS WILL GAIN THROUGH THIS POSITION]

Education/Recreation Opportunities:

Education and recreation opportunities are plentiful in the surrounding area. Hiking, kayaking, biking, backpacking, fishing, and whale watching are just the tip of the iceberg. There are also many classes offered through the local community center at a nominal fee including pottery, painting, dancing, etc. [ENTICE THEM FURTHER BY REFERENCING POTENTIAL OFF-TIME ACTIVITIES]

Housing:

Bunkhouse is adjacent to Forest Service office and approximately 2 miles from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. The bunkhouse consists of apartments with 2 bedrooms, each with two beds. Each bedroom has a full bath. Apartments also have fully furnished kitchens, living room with cable TV, phone for local calls only.

There is cell phone reception and Wi-Fi. The bunkhouse is near a bus stop for shopping, etc. You will be sharing the apartment with up to three others of the same gender. [ALLEVIATE POTENTIAL CONCERNS ABOUT A NEW AND UNKNOWN ENVIRONMENT BY DETAILING LIVING QUARTERS AND AMENITIES]

Position Description Check List:

  • Strong first sentence, a good hook!
  • Break duties down into percentages.
  • Mention what level of background will ideally be brought to the position (e.g., a solid foundation in GPS/GIS versus someone with little experience who can be trained to a certain level)
  • State with whom the intern will be working (e.g., on a team versus independently).
  • Say something unique (good or challenging) about the internship position and duty station.
  • Mention work conditions/schedules.
  • Specify what the intern will get out of the internship.
  • Identify the unmet need the intern will fulfill.

More helpful hints:

  • When selecting the education, training and skills expected, separate the qualities a candidate MUST have (those you won’t seriously consider an intern without) and those that would merely be nice to have (a bonus!).
  • Try to avoid using acronyms in the description as applicants may not be familiar with them.
  • In the housing section – is there access to cell service and Wi-Fi? This is always a big plus.
  • Ask your staff about things they think would’ve been helpful to know before they arrived.