Name: Madison Sundlof
Year at CSB/SJU: Senior
Major: Environmental Studies
Internships: Green Team Intern, Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. and USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council)
How did you find out about the internship and what was the application process like?
My mom works for the insurance division of Kraus-Anderson and suggested I meet with someone to investigate the possibility of a sustainability internship. KA interns are typically engineers, project managers, and accountants- they had never had a sustainability intern before. After contacting them, they agreed to meet to discuss the possibility. During the interview process I presented a few ideas for summer projects and how they could benefit the company as a whole. They were intrigued by the possibilities and created a new intern position.
What were some of the internship highlights?
During my time working with Kraus-Anderson, I started a composting program at two locations and saved the company thousands of dollars with simple behavioral changes. I was able to rewrite their sustainability plan, input energy data into Energy Star, conduct educational programs about GMOs, work on a LEED certified building and eliminate Styrofoam in the office. While at the USGBC, I had the opportunity to help host sustainable events including a local brewery tour, a Target Field Twins sustainability tour, and a local food discussion.
What was a typical day like? What were some of your major responsibilities?
Unlike many other internships, my role was not structured, so it was important that I took initiative. As the first sustainability intern I needed to create my own role. A typical day would include meetings with staff, educational program planning, contacting the city and waste management for procedures, answering sustainability questions, entering data, editing USGBC videos and researching and assessing LEED buildings.
What were some of the challenges of your internship?
I learned about LEED buildings and sustainable action being taken in the construction field. This allowed me to get a better grasp on where we have been and where we are going. I also learned a lot about the structure of a workplace and how to get employees inspired. I figured out how to host events, start a composting program and network. I gave a few presentations and my public speaking improved greatly over the course of the summer.
What advice would you give other students interested in internships?
Keep an open mind. Every field is relevant to sustainability, so maybe try something you do not know much about, but can grow in. Also, start a LinkedIn profile. Networking is a crucial aspect of business and going out of your way to thank people and make positive connections will take you farther than you would expect. Lastly, have fun! The working world is hard, so enjoy a time where you can make mistakes, learn from your coworkers, and become more prepared for your future career.