Finding a Green Internship

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I spent this past summer as an intern for the City of Houston’s Sustainability Department, where I analyzed data on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from city-owned properties. I broke down the data, comparing emissions based on department, type of property, and changes year to year. In addition to data analysis, I sat in on conference calls with mayors’ offices across the nation and around the world to discuss sustainability initiatives. The internship overall led to a greater understanding of the sustainability actions taken at the city level, both in Houston and beyond.

I came across this internship through the campus organization Texans for Climate Change Action. The city reached out to the club looking for students interested in working with the sustainability department over the summer. I responded to the opportunity and met with the department’s director for coffee, where we talked over the internship and tailored it to my interests.

Finding the right internship can seem difficult, and it often takes time, preparation, and outreach. At times, it may seem as though there is a lack of opportunities available; however, there are resources on campus, including the Center for Career Development (CCD). The CCD’s Handshake website offers a variety of helpful tools, not solely job postings. It provides information about individual companies, networking events and information sessions in the area, applications, and on-campus interviews. The CCD also offers resume workshops, cover letter writing help, and interview preparation.

Aside from the CCD, academic departments and individual professors are aware of a variety of potential opportunities. Simply signing up for department emails and meeting with professors can make the difference in obtaining a job. Even if the professors aren’t aware of any openings at the moment, if one should arise, they will be more likely to bring the position to your attention. Another valuable way to make connections is to become active in student-run organizations; many employers will provide information about opportunities that align with the interests of the club.

Also reaching out to recruiters on and around campus throughout the entire process, whether it be a formal meeting or a discussion over coffee, not only shows interest but also allows you to learn more about the company and job firsthand. Meeting not just with recruiters, but with Rice alumni working at the company is also a valuable way to network. Connecting through LinkedIn or Sallyportal provides mentorship opportunities and potential job openings. For green internships, be sure to check out the Sustainability at Rice LinkedIn group. However, make sure your social media presence is professional, as employers are likely to search your name.

Many internships are offered throughout the entire year, and the majority of summer opportunities are released between November and March; however, information regarding internships may be available on company websites before the application opens. It is helpful to know what employers are requesting in the application to give you time to write cover letters or reach out to professors for letters of recommendation. Also, plan to submit the application approximately one week before the deadline to give time to sort out any issues that may occur.

After submitting an application, it is important to remain involved in the process. Checking on the status of the submission as well as asking any questions you may have shows continued interest in the position and the company.

Ultimately, networking and showing interest in a company, rather than sending out as many resumes and applications as possible, can lead to a wide variety of opportunities, ranging from jobs to research to internships. While it may take time, putting in the effort to connect with a company will be rewarding and educational.