Internships to help save the Earth, learn — and get paid

sustainability interns

Students in the Office of Sustainability’s first summer internship program are working to reduce food waste, analyze storm retention and bring drying racks to residence hall laundry rooms, among other things.


The Office of Sustainability‘s first undergraduate internship program began this month with a twist: most of the 23 interns take on green projects in other campus units, reporting to internal supervisors.

“Our office advertised the availability of the internship program this spring, and many units responded with sustainability projects,” said graduate assistant Zoe Lukens.

The students are involved with different kinds of projects. One intern is working with engineering faculty on a project to analyze storm water retention on the east side of campus. In Campus Housing, interns are working to reduce the waste that accumulates during moving days, implement a recycling plan and procure drying racks for laundry rooms. Those assigned to dining services will reduce food waste and increase food donation.

In Facilities Management, an intern helps inspect buildings, monitor energy management and recommend ways to conserve energy. At UI Health, an intern is working with the hospital’s Green Team to improve recycling.

At the Office of Sustainability, interns work in recycling, energy conservation, bike planning, green events, social media — even conducting a campus tree inventory.

Weekly seminars during the 10-week program focus on environmental and energy issues, problem solving and change management.

Seven of the interns are in the College of Engineering’s paid internship program for rising sophomores.

Cindy Klein-Banai, associate chancellor for sustainability, said the students were selected through an application process based on their experience, major and career goals.

“The program provides them with hands-on learning experiences that help achieve our overall mission of greater social, economic and environmental sustainability,” she said.

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