In this day and age, finishing a college degree often isn’t enough, says sustainability career counselor Mary Vance. Graduates must also have real-world work experience under their belt to land their first job.
“The problem is, many students can’t afford to take an unpaid internship to get that work experience,” said Vance.
Recognizing this disconnect, Vance started PSU’s paid sustainability internship program in 2009. With funding from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, Vance partners with local businesses and organizations in the sustainability field—from green building and renewable energy to food systems and city planning—to offer paid internships to students.
In the four years since the program’s inception, more than 50 students have been placed in internships with organizations like Ecotrust, Oregon BEST, and Sustainable Northwest.
Vance hosted a reception last week at PSU to celebrate the success of the internships and honor these organizations, some of which began
matching ISS funds this year to bring on two interns rather than just one.
Students mingled with representatives from businesses and organizations
that offer internships in sustainability.
Architecture alumna Taryn Mudge spoke about her internship with the architecture firm SRG Partnership. Upon graduation, the firm immediately offered her a full-time position. And the employment train didn’t end with her. After hiring Mudge, SRG has continued to hire PSU graduates.
“They didn’t have any PSU students or graduates working there before my internship, now there’s a whole community of us,” said Mudge. “This program not only affects the interns, but it spreads to others too.”
“Our internships do work, they do help,” said Vance. “Our alumni have been very successful.”
Thanks to our 2012-2013 internship partners:
- City of Portland, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
- Drive Oregon
- Ecotrust, Edible Portland
- Ecotrust, FoodHub
- Oregon BEST
- Palleroni Leite Design Partnership (PLDP)
- Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI)
- Renewable Northwest Project
- Smart Grid Oregon
- Sustainable Northwest
- Willamette Partnership