HomeEducationSustainability EducationRecord number of students pursue virtual sustainability internships with SUST 4096

Record number of students pursue virtual sustainability internships with SUST 4096

Diving into sustainable career opportunities (and earning credit, too!)

What’s it like to be a college student and a virtual intern? This semester, the 23 students in SUST 4096: Sustainability Internships are finding out. This record-sized class includes students with internships that range from architecture to agricultural research and much more in between. 

One of those students is Marianna Arocho. Marianna, a Mechanical Engineering student who hopes to work in renewable energy, is interning this semester with the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society. So far, she’s enjoyed learning more about the renewable energy energy field as a whole and virtually meeting people who work in energy and are also interested in sustainability. 

“The connections I’ve made have already led to other connections,” Marianna said.

Marianna is also learning how to tailor technical information about energy to a more general audience and work in interdisciplinary settings, skills that she expects to carry into the future. 

Marianna Arocho, photo courtesy Marianna Arocho

Each semester, SUST 4096 provides students with support finding an internship and developing professional skills to get the most possible out of their internship experience. Students create goals, learn from course alumni about how they’ve built sustainability into their careers since graduating, and explore sustainability concepts like systems thinking.

According to Carley Rice, new co-instructor of SUST 4096, the course “combines real world experience with practical and theoretical knowledge in a way that prepares students for a career involving sustainability. It’s exciting to see the students learn and grow through their internship experiences.” SUST 4096 is also co-taught by Mary Hannemann.

SUST 4096 student Zaynab Ahmed was drawn to her internship at Minneapolis Climate Action by her interest in working to alleviate environmental racism. It’s “the perfect role” for her, she said. So far, she’s done outreach in Minneapolis’ East African community to identify youth climate ambassadors and share information about recycling in the community.

Zaynab Ahmed, photo courtesy Zaynab Ahmed

Zaynab, who plans to work in medicine, knows that “within medicine there are a lot of intersectionalities with environmentalism.” She hopes that the work she’s doing now will help her build principles of environmental justice into her future career. 

Another unique aspect of SUST 4096 is the opportunity for enrolled students to apply for Ecolab Sustainability Internship Scholarships. These awards support students who are matched in unpaid internships and were made possible by a generous gift from Ecolab. Students enrolled in SUST 4096 are eligible to apply for Ecolab Sustainability Internship Scholarships each fall and spring semester.

Alec Porter, a SUST 4096 student who is interning at the Green Neighbor Challenge, said that the class and internship experience have helped him consider new career paths.

“I’m going to want to have sustainability worked into whatever I’m doing,” he said.

No matter what field he ends up working in, Alec is confident that sustainability can be applied to any job.

Alec Porter, photo courtesy Alec Porter

Students, if you’re interested in SUST 4096, you can register for the class any fall or spring semester. Contact Jess Jurcek (jurce003@umn.edu), or instructors Mary Hannemann (oldha012@umn.edu) and Carley Rice (rice0362@umn.edu) with questions.

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