William J Matuska

Intern name: William J Matuska

Major(s)/Minor(s): Environmental Studies major 

Title/place of internship/fellowship, etc.: Electricity Intern at the Great Plains Institute and Clean Energy Advocacy Intern at the Vermont Law School 

How did you find out about your internship/fellowship/etc.? The Vermont Law School internship was recommended to me by professor Corrie Grosse in the ES department. Without her, I would have never heard of the opportunity. With the Great Plains Institute, I reached out to a CSB/SJU alum who was working there, introduced myself, and asked if he thought there could be a role for me at GPI for the summer. Fortunately, he had some ideas for how I could contribute so we worked together to find projects and teams where I'd fit. Without his help, I would not have had the opportunity to intern at GPI.

What were your responsibilities at your internship/fellowship/etc.? I participated in Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and Environment on various team projects. One project focused on Anaerobic Digester policy, especially relating to Low Carbon Fuel Standards. Another team I was on researched how to create a Food Packaging Standard for packaging and food waste that would have a similar effect that Renewable Portfolio Standards have with increasing renewable energy. On both teams I worked with staff from the Institute and graduate students pursuing their law degree. Aside from these teams, I participated in an energy clinic where I heard about various projects going on at the Institute from low income solar projects to EV infrastructure development. Various alumni in the energy law field came to speak at the clinic as well. Finally, the internship program let us enroll in a 2 credit summer course through VLS of which mine was titled Renewable Energy Project Finance and Development.

At the Great Plains Institute, I researched transmission siting and routing, conducted interviews on the role of local governments in the energy transition, and participated in an e21 initiative to gauge stakeholder perspective on e21 moving forward.

What was the most beneficial aspect of your experience? I learned a ton about the energy industry that I likely would not have learned through my education at CSB/SJU. While CSB/SJU provided me with the tools to be a successful intern, both sites provided me with real world experience with professionals. 

What was the most surprising thing you experienced or learned during your internship/fellowship/etc.? It was great to see how helpful, willing to talk, and passionate many of the people I connected with were this summer. I found this to be true with folks who were distant in the organization or even outside my organizations.

How can you apply what you experienced at your internship/fellowship/etc. in the future? Given that these internships were some of my first steps into the professional world, I learned a lot about professionalism in the real world. Simple things like correct email format and respecting people's time when completing a project go a long way. Further, COVID-19 forcing both internships online showed me the importance of adapting and being flexible to uncertain circumstances. These are just a few soft skills I learned that I will be able to take to any work setting.

What advice would you offer to future students interested in this experience? Do not be afraid to reach out to people at an organization you are interested in, especially if you can use the Johnnie Bennie connection. As I looked for summer internships, I connected with many alumni and people in the energy industry. These people were pleased to hear from me and more than willing to help! While only one worked out in the end, I am happy with the connections and conversations that I created from simply sending an email.