2017 was colossal in many ways. While you were cramming for the SATs and doing a marathon tour of colleges, America was backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement and Antarctica was losing a chunk of ice the size of Delaware. So, now that you’re free from the clutches of AP U.S. History, you might be considering taking to the streets to join the Climate March on Washington. In this post, we have provided some ideas on how the environmental activists among us can spend their summer while impressing college admissions counselors.
Schools like UCLA offer summer courses specifically designed for high schoolers where you can live on campus and learn about the environment and sustainability. Other schools like Brown offer off-site leadership programs. The Brown Environmental Leadership Labs allow high school students to venture across the country, from New England to Alaska. Students in the Rhode Island program will learn not just about environmental studies but also the leadership skills necessary to tackle climate change. Whatever you do, it should be rigorous. If you plan on taking one class this summer, pair it with another activity. You should also be aware of the fact that colleges won’t give you priority just because you took a course at their school over another this summer.
Intern at an Environmental Organization
Interning is one of the best uses of your time during the summer. You will not only learn the ins-and-outs of what environmental activism can look like, but you will also make valuable contacts that will help you in the future. There are a myriad of well-established organizations doing great work out there, from Environmental Defense to SeaWeb. Sierra Club (the oldest environmental group in the country) focuses on establishing permanent protection for vital environmental areas, regulations, and protections for endangered wildlife, among other things. They are at the forefront of lobbying for political action and offer a number of internships, both nationally and within state chapters
If slightly more renegade activism is your style, check out organizations like Greenpeace. While Greenpeace doesn’t offer a structured internship specifically for high schoolers, you can always make inroads with the right people and pitch your own. Who knows? You may just end up commandeering an oil ship alongside Lucy Lawless.
Work on a Political Initiative
Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg launched the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in attempts of uniting leaders around the world in challenging climate change head-on. Since its inception, over 7,000 cities have heeded the call and the American mayors have vowed to pick up whatever slack the U.S. drops from backing out of the Paris Agreement. While the Covenant doesn’t explicitly offer an internship for high school students, pitching your own to a prestigious organization that works on global climate change issues is a great way to learn about the international implications of activism and sustainability.
Intern at a Governmental Agency
The head of the EPA may be a pseudo-climate denier, but the vast majority of scientists and organizers working within agencies like the EPA got into the business to further scientific discovery and protect the environment. This last year saw major proposed budget cuts to agencies like NOAA whose work is vital to assessing the impacts of climate change. In the face of looming budget cuts, scientists in these organizations often rely upon students to help them with critical research. Check out one of NOAA’s multiple internships and summer programs open to high schoolers.
Intern at an Environmentally-Conscious Business
In the face of environmental rollbacks, corporations have joined the fight. Some, like Patagonia, are engaging in lawsuits against the federal government to protect national monuments, while others like Unilever, Tom’s, and Seventh Generation have adopted environmentally-sustainable models over the years. Find out which division in the company is responsible for environmental campaigns or sustainability in business and pitch your own internship. If you need help, feel free to reach out to us. We’re great at securing internships at some of the nation’s top companies.
Research is a central component of environmental activism. Without it, we would have no idea what the impacts of climate change truly are. Becoming a research assistant is one of the best ways to spend your summer. You will not only learn a tremendous amount, but you could also have the opportunity to get published while you’re still in high school. Research the top professors and scientists in the field of climate science and pitch yourself as a summer research assistant.
Another great way to spend your summer preparing to become an environmental activist is to actually be one. Do you have a wide social reach or access to a group of like-minded students who are passionate about saving the planet? You’re halfway there. Recruit a team of fellow activists, do your research to find out what environmental legislation is on the table (nationally or in your area) and how your representatives intend to vote and plan accordingly. Organizing a full campaign consisting of protests, rallies with speakers, sit-ins, marches, and phone bank parties is great ways to show-off to the admissions committee. You will not only get to make cool signs, but you should walk away with a demonstrated ability in the legislative process, city permitting, leadership, and team management.
Need help securing an impressive summer activity? Call us. We are professionals in securing hard-to-get internships for students.