If you’ve never heard of the Hinckley Institute of Politics and you’re a student at the University of Utah, you need to get on their website right now. Hinckley is a great source for internships, and they also have a phenomenal speaker series every semester, which I highly recommend. I was a Hinckley intern this semester, which is how I ended up working for P3 Utah. It was a fantastic experience. I didn’t know a lot about sustainability beyond recycling and reducing energy use, so I learned quite a bit. I wanted to share a few things I learned:
- I learned that social and environmental responsibility go hand in hand. When I started the internship, I was much more interested in the social impact that businesses have. However, over the course of the semester I realized just how related that is to the environment. Toxic environments lead to bad outcomes for humans. Pollution can cause respiratory issues. Drilling and mining can destroy beautiful parts of the world that people could otherwise enjoy recreationally. You really cannot separate the environment from humans, because isn’t the point of conservation to preserve the wonders of the earth for our descendants?
- I learned that if we are going to solve our most pressing problems, they must be approached from multiple perspectives and angles. Of course non-profits do a great job at filling needs in our communities that are not met by government or the private sector, but business can be a bigger source of meeting those needs. There are many innovative companies that have found creative ways to provide jobs for at-risk populations or provide food for other organizations to distribute. If members of the community come together to solve problems through multiple avenues, we are much more likely to find lasting solutions.
- I learned how to use WordPress, that you can now easily switch between two Twitter or Instagram accounts on the iPhone apps, that candy gets people to talk to you, and that if you’re tabling outside for several hours, you should really wear sunscreen.
I highly recommend that every student complete at least one internship. The people you meet and the things you learn will be invaluable, not only in preparation for your career, but in the way you choose to build your life.