Looking back at my overall experience working at Green Map System, I am impressed by the variety of insights I have gained about social justice work in both the environmental and urban planning fields. Primarily, I have learned that technology is playing an increasingly important role in promoting awareness about environmental issues and driving new solutions. Through online mapping, community members can now learn and gain autonomy over the development of their neighborhoods in new ways and can communicate the value of green spaces more effectively.
Since starting my internship, I have had an impact on my organization in a variety of ways, all with the effect of bringing Green Map System up to speed with today’s technology. On Green Map System’s new webpage, one can now see countless stories that I have created describing Green Map System’s history, impact, and reach through different site mapping projects. With this in mind, I am really glad to have learned from this experience how meaningful it is to work in an organization that gives you challenging but significant responsibilities, as each contribution you make has the potential to impact the development and path of the organization.
On another note, I have learned from internship the challenges of commuting. I feel extremely fortunate to live in close enough proximity to Manhattan to use public transportation to get to work, however, I now recognize why living in the city during the internship experience would have been preferable. This experience has granted me more personal insight into the challenges of suburban sprawl and the importance of investments and innovations in public transportation. I think that had I known this earlier, I would have prepared to get up earlier and go to bed earlier so that I would feel more comfortable as I started my long and early trips to work. However, the tradeoff benefit of this living arrangement is being near my family and friends as well as in the green community that ultimately inspired one of my main internship projects.
Finally, for anyone wanting to pursue an internship or career in my field I would recommend gaining a broad background in sustainability while also developing specific skill sets that can be useful to an organization. A broad background allows one to pick up on the issues challenging different communities more easily and to relate specific challenges, such as hurricane risk and increasing asthma rates to overarching issues that could have led to them, such as climate change and air pollution. Meanwhile, some technical background or other hard skill set, from web design to statistical analysis, will provide incredible value to your organization that they will recognize quickly.
I am very thankful for the learning and professional opportunities I have had working at Green Map System and by being a Social Justice WOW Fellowship participant. This opportunity truly helped me understand what it is like to work on environmental issues from a technical perspective and in an urban space and I am really glad that I was able to pick up on so many different tasks and responsibilities as I have worked here. Every internship presents new learning opportunities and experience, but I can truly say that my Green Map System experience brought me a more diverse and exciting array of learning opportunities than I could have ever expected.