- Brief description of STEP Signature Project:
My STEP Signature Project was the Summer Global Internship Program offered through Fisher College of Business. I was an environmental consultant intern at MRA Consulting, located in Sydney, Australia.
(Left: One of my favorite photos of Sydney I took, Right: Outside of the office I worked at)
- Understanding of self, assumptions, view of world:
Throughout this internship, a perspective I had before had changed in each of these sectors due to several factors. Not only was this my first internship which was relative to my career path, but it was also was abroad, in a country I have not previously been to. Around 30 students from Fisher College of Business participated in the Internship Program in Sydney, Australia, but because I am not a business major, I still felt as if I was fully immersed in a new environment and had a self-transforming experience. As my college career progresses, I am becoming more independent and confident in myself. However, working abroad by myself really tested this aspect, and I took an unexpectedly long amount of time to adjust to the new environment. However, because I felt isolated, this was an opportunity to truly reflect on myself and my passion. With limited contact with friends and family, I had time to self-reflect in terms of my future career path, as well as personal values.
- Events, interactions, relationships, or activities that led to transformation:
I decided to go to Australia out of the many countries offered through the program because it was the most environmentally conscious country out of the options. It was obvious that Australia’s values and morals were different from the United States, some visible through mple differences (for example, everyone here carries a “KeepCup”, a reusable mug for coffees. Most of the countless number of coffee shops offer a discount for using a reusable mug).
During my internship, I had the opportunity to attend the Waste Strategy Summit Conference, and heard many speakers from major companies (L’Oreal, IKEA, Lush, etc.) and local businesses on their waste reducing strategies. This event was a valuable experience as it was the first time I have attended a conference with important figures such as CEOs and other representatives. There were a couple of guest speakers from overseas, which shared how their countries managed waste, which made the conference even more educational and further widened my knowledge on waste strategies globally.
A primary interaction that transformed my thoughts on career paths was my supervisor. Because the work environment at the firm was very casual, I could easily approach my supervisor and coworkers for any questions or discussions. My supervisor was very considerate and helpful in trying to make my experience worthwhile. The activities and tasks I accomplished during my internship experience contributed the most to my perspective on the waste industry and environmental consulting. As an overall summary of what my experience was like: My first and primary task was measuring the firm’s carbon footprint. I also assisted coworkers on tasks such as researching and calling potential clients. I also assisted coworkers in an Illegal Dumping project for the local city government, including report writing and presenting to the board.
My main project during the internship was maneuvering the firm toward carbon neutrality. A document named the National Carbon Offset Standard for Organizations, offered by the Australian government was the only resource provided to me as a foundation. Using this document, in addition with many others which I have found, I calculated the current carbon footprint the firm is responsible for. This project took over the course of the entire internship due to a long wait time for information (especially for electricity, water and wastewater usage). There were many numbers that were estimated and conservative, but I believe I left a good foundation, in case they decide to re-evaluate their carbon footprint. I finished up the project with a short report on the process, results, and possible routes the firm can take toward carbon neutrality and becoming certified as a carbon neutral organization. Most of my time was spent assisting other coworkers in researching and calling clients. Whenever any assistance was needed, I received a quick debrief on their project and tasks that needed to be done. They were very concise with what they needed, so I had no problem carrying out the tasks, and it was a rewarding experience because it gave me an insight on projects my coworkers were working on. I took on a wide range of tasks and experiences, and grateful that my internship experience was interesting and provided different experiences outside of the office. Though my interactions with clients, and experiencing how environmental consulting is like, I was determined to pursue environmental consulting as a career path.
- Why the transformation is significant and valuable for my life
I believe this transformation in mindset was valuable and necessary because I developed academically, personally, and professionally. Through the many projects and tasks, I was exposed to many important topics and learned a great deal by researching and through difficulties that appeared during projects. I also greatly developed personally by placing myself in a completely unfamiliar environment. This gave me a chance to reflect on my career interest because I came to Sydney to get real-life experience in environmental consulting in an environment-conscious country. Although there were times where I found myself bored at my internship, but that was when I was doing busy work. Because most of my time in Sydney was devoted to the internship, the fact that I enjoyed my time there made me realize that I had a passion for environmental consulting. Finally, I developed in the professional aspect through my first internship experience, where I worked in a professional setting. In addition to achieving professional mannerisms, I had first-hand experience on the difference in cultures while studying abroad, and gained a larger perspective on how Australia handles waste and resources. I am very glad that my first internship was abroad, because I can apply the experiences and perspectives I had abroad to any future internships or jobs.