This summer, one of our Environmental Science and Resource Management (ESRM) majors, Jake Henry, landed a great paid internship as part of Waste Management’s (WM) Recycle Corps. The award-winning program puts college students through intensive, hands-on job training involving the latest strategies in engaging people and organizations to change behavior around waste reduction and recycling.
Over the course of 10 weeks, WM Recycle Corps interns work with businesses, multifamily properties and residents in 26 cities across two counties to improve recycling habits and reduce waste. “We have a group of 14 of us, all college students about the same age,” says Jake, whose fellow interns attend the University of Washington, Western Washington and other colleges in the area. “We do a lot of education and outreach in Seattle and surrounding cities, like Mukilteo, Auburn and Tukwila. We answer questions and share information about recycling and composting.”
This outreach process often involves meetings with city council members and other community leaders to determine local priorities, and interns then fan out in pairs to talk with businesses and residential customers throughout the week (in the past three years, WM Recycle Corps interns have conducted more than 48,000 customer conversations). “We also work events, like farmer’s markets and SeaFair, where have a booth set up with information for people,” says Jake.
Face-to-face conversations are a huge component of the internship, and Jake says he’s gotten tremendous experience speaking with all sorts of people—some who are interested in recycling and composting, and plenty who aren’t, especially in communities outside of Seattle. “Talking to a lot of people who don’t really care can be frustrating,” he says, “but it’s really nice when you do talk to someone who cares.”
Jake has about one week left in the internship, and then he’ll begin his senior year at SEFS. Good luck with the rest of the summer, and we’ll see you in the fall!
Though Waste Management provides comprehensive waste and environmental services across North America, the Recycle Corps program is only held in the Seattle area. So if you’re looking for a great internship in sustainability and environmental outreach next summer, keep your eye out next spring for the application deadline (this year it was April 1)!