This school year, GreenHawks Media plans to highlight some of Miami’s own students with its new Students in Sustainability series, allowing students to share their intellectual and co-curricular pursuits. For this first installment, GreenHawks Media interviewed a former staff writer, Blair Hassett, about her summer experience interning in Washington D.C. Take it away, Blair!
Hello! My name is Blair Hassett, and I am beginning my second year at Miami as a Political Science Major with an Environmental Sustainability Co-Major. I am a Scholar Leader, an employee in the Political Science Department and an intern at the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure. I am the PR & Membership Chair for the American Association of Undergraduate Women and I am on the Executive Board for EcoReps. I also serve on the Community Standards Board!
Photo courtesy of Blair Hassett
Where did you work in Washington D.C. and how did Miami help you get there?
I participated in a Miami study away program called Inside Washington for 10 weeks in Washington, DC. The first three weeks of the program were a speaker series and the last seven weeks were an internship. Though this program counted for eight credit hours, we did not take conventional classes. Instead, we would have three or four speaker Q&A sessions per day and write weekly reflection papers. While it was up to me to interview and secure my internship, I expressed an interest in an environmental organization and I was pointed in the direction of three sustainability-oriented non-profits by my program director, Dr. Kleiman. I ended up interning at a non-profit in Alexandria, Virginia called the Institute for Sustainable Development.
How did your work experience fit within your environmental interests?
The Institute for Sustainable Development deals primarily with community resilience and recovery in the face of natural disasters. We focused on the development of sustainable infrastructure in places like California, Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. I am very interested in ensuring environmental sustainability and setting eco-friendly precedents on a national scale through politics and community action, and the Institute for Sustainable Development emphasized the same values when aiding damaged communities.
What were your responsibilities at your internship?
An overview of my duties for the office included editing and analyzing the audio files from our weekly conference call, conducting research for a comprehensive report on the state of Southern California’s community after the Woolsey Fire and developing a set of sponsors and attendees for a California resiliency event in September. I also compiled research and a bibliography for the third chapter of my CEO’s book, formed the Gulf, Midwestern, and Western portions of our website and ran our Twitter page. The specific locations I focused for our website included California, Texas, Iowa and Ohio. My internship was a crash-course in disaster recovery and community resilience, and I learned about the complexities of managing and expanding a non-profit.
What was your biggest takeaway from this summer experience?
My most significant learning experiences included instances in which I learned an immense amount of information about the history of natural disasters in the U.S. and the role an economic developer plays in remediating disaster sites. I have a better understanding of the intricacies of specialized environmental policymaking. Overall, this summer was a very educational and enlightening experience, and I am appreciative of my time with the Institute for Sustainable Development.
What advice do you have for other students looking to intern in Washington D.C.?
From a logistical standpoint, I would definitely start your internship search early and don’t give up! It may seem like you and the rest of the world are competing for the same internship position, but trust that you are as qualified as your competitors and that your confidence will set you apart. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your potential boss or connect with them on LinkedIn- it’ll only benefit you!
Photo by Scott Applewhite, courtesy of Blair Hassett