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Interning for Conservation in Massachusetts

Posted on Monday, August 04, 2014

Working this summer with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Robb Croasdaile ‘16, Rebecca Greiff ‘15, Emily Ott ‘17 and Rebecca Siegel ‘15 took on today's environmental challenges while exploring potential career paths.

Established in 1975, the EEA operates under the mission to preserve, protect and enhance the natural resources of the state while working to make the state more energy efficient and environmentally conscious. John Clarkeson ‘75 is the EEA's assistant director of water policy and serves as coordinator of the student intern program.

Thanks to networking assistance from the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education, the four HWS students connected with Clarkeson to join 16 EEA summer interns chosen from a competitive pool of applicants.

"Since I reconnected with the Colleges five years ago, I've been very impressed with the students and the programs offered," says Clarkeson, who majored in political science at HWS. "The Colleges are a phenomenal learning experience for the students and I'm happy to get bright and energetic interns from the schools."

From mapping with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to blogging, the HWS interns worked on projects that will sharpen their field experience and hone their academic focus and vocational aspirations.

Greiff, whose internship involved mapping data using the ArcGIS program, is working on a zero emission action plan (ZEV) for the Massachusetts electric vehicle initiative to help the state achieve their goal of having 300,000 ZEVs on the roadway by 2025. Greiff says her internship gave her "unique and important insight into how government policies, the market, and human behavior intersect."

Siegel, who says she would like to pursue a career working with GIS, was the GIS intern for the EEA this summer. Her internship focused on converting and mapping data using ArcGIS, and "allowed me to explore my interest and experience so much," she says. "At the office there are plenty of ways to make connections with people who work in a field you are interested in."

On the other end of the spectrum, Croasdaile worked in the Office of Technical Assistance & Technology, studying the purchasing practice for environmentally preferred products throughout Massachusetts. Ott interned in the public relations department, where her main responsibilities were developing the EEA's social media presence and writing content for EEA's Great Outdoors blog.

Though Ott is undecided about her future, she learned about what she wants in her future as well as "areas of interest to possibly specialize in" while pursuing her degree.

One of the key components to the internship was the opportunity for the students to experience the array of career opportunities available in environmental studies. To that end, Clarkeson organized weekly speaker forums that offered interns the opportunity to speak with professionals working in the environmental field, but from "very different perspectives," Clarkeson says. The meetings allowed students to "get a feel for what skill sets are needed" to succeed in the careers in which they are interested.

"Not only can they see certain aspects of what they're learning in the classroom put into a practical experience," says Clarkeson, "But sooner or later they're going to have to leave the beautiful shores of Seneca Lake and get a job, and if they're interested in working in the environmental realm, there are a number of ways and types of careers that you can get."

Beyond the practical experience in environmental studies, Clarkeson's mentorship has been invaluable, says Greiff: "John Clarkeson has been a great mentor throughout my internship. I know that he will continue to be someone I can come to for guidance and insight as I pursue a career in the environmental field."

 


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