BY: MATT HORELICK
When I first decided to Intern with UD Sustainability this summer, I had this vision of myself kicking down doors and fighting for environmental justice across campus. I was well aware that the entire field of Sustainability is fighting an uphill battle but never realized how true this was for our fledgling Sustainability department. The department consists of our intrepid Sustainability Manager, Michelle Bennett, and we few interns taking up a few cubicles in the Facilities and planning office. My first week I put up a sign for the “UD Sustainability Headquarters” that I made with a piece of paper and a sharpie and I like to joke that it is a perfect reflection of the departments’ status. But we are fighting to gain funding and build influence across campus as we work with multiple departments on a grant application for funding that would give us the boost we need.
The beginning of my internship this summer marked my return to Delaware after spending a year away taking classes at Boston University. I had come into UD as an undecided major but the time I spent in Boston allowed me to finally discover my passion for Environmental Science. When discussing this with one of my professors he told me that one of the first rules of Environmental Science was that “You can never just do one thing”. Now, I understand that he meant any one action has a rippling effect that can set off a multitude of other events. But in my time here I have learned that this can apply to the working world as well.
My initial plan for this internship was to research ways to improve our waste removal and recycling systems. More specifically I was looking into bringing Big Belly Solar compactors onto campus and how they could help make a greener UD. But it turned out that the work I would do had a much larger scope. As my research continued it evolved into researching education outreach and incentivizing recycling on campus and eventually grew into working on an outreach plan to include in the grant application.
In my time this summer, I’ve discovered that you really never can do just one thing. My advice I would give to anyone would be to be adaptable and don’t be afraid to share your ideas with your coworkers and bosses. Your job may start off with a single goal but it’s likely to change and grow and you can be the one to facilitate that change if you keep an open mind and are willing to put yourself out there.
Matt Horelick is a rising Junior with a passion for Environmental Studies. He is a summer intern at the UD Department of Sustainability. If you have any questions or ideas for the sustainability dept. you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://sites.udel.edu/sustainability/ for more info.