Through my work with Seaside Sustainability this summer, I met a lot of my goals, but not in the ways I imagined. I wanted to learn about non-profit work, which I imagined doing through event planning and development work. Instead, I got an interesting look at how this organization itself ran during this time, especially their internship program. It was interesting to me how autonomous this was and how well they have their remote infrastructure set up with their use of Trello and G-Suite.
I was hoping to get a better idea of what type of environmental work specifically I would most enjoy doing in a non-profit. However, I found it difficult to clarify my career interests in this internship, in part because I didn’t have the chance to work with many professionals in the field, since at Seaside I was working almost entirely with other interns. However, a major thing I did clarify about my career interest this summer is the type of organization I would most like to work for in the future. In the beginning of the summer, I also interned with an organization called Envision Frederick County, which is an organization that works on civic engagement and not just environmental issues, but I got to help them with some environmental programming. One reason I really enjoyed that experience was because their mission really aligned with my passions and worldview with regards to social activism. On the other hand, Seaside, although they are an environmental organization and they do a lot of great work, doesn’t have the social justice focus I feel really strongly about. Therefore, I learned that in the future I should search for any organization that has a mission I feel passionately about and a strategy that makes sense to me and that might benefit from my expertise, even if it’s not an environmental organization.
For other students interested in environmental work who are looking for an internship, I would also recommend broadening your search to outside of environmental organizations. Depending on what specifically you want to do, lots of different organizations can help you gain skills that you can use in environmental work in the future. As for advice for future Seaside Sustainability interns specifically, I’d say don’t be afraid to ask questions. That advice goes for anything, but especially at Seaside, there is not a lot of orientation or explanation before you are given responsibilities, so if you get confused, ask the project manager or your intern manager if you don’t know who to ask.
Even though this summer didn’t go as I imagined, I am proud of what I accomplished. I advocated for myself when I didn’t have enough work and wasn’t getting enough out of my first work assignments. I’m also proud of the blog posts I wrote. I really enjoyed this project because I got to write about what I find important. However, I did face challenges throughout the summer and it was at times hard to stay motivated through all the turbulence happening around the world. Therefore, I am most proud of the resilience and grit I demonstrated to myself by finding ways to learn and grow though the difficult circumstances.