During the month of August, eight interns spent their days at the Department of Commerce, Climate Generation, and at various locations around the Twin Cities learning about energy and climate change. These eight undergraduate and graduate students —each with a different major— provided unique perspectives during each presentation and field trip. From graphic design to urban studies and environmental studies to engineering, each student brought something completely different to this experience.

The main goals for this internship were to:

  • Provide meaningful opportunities for post-secondary students to acquire real-world experiences in the field of energy related to their educational goals.
  • Assist students in expanding their communications abilities, professional development, and leadership skills, each relating to energy.
  • Connect students with mentors in the field of energy.
  • Provide students with an introduction to energy related careers.
  • Provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in a public setting.

There are six teams that make up the State Energy Office at the Department of Commerce and the interns from each one. During these presentations, the teams posed various questions to the students to help them get a sense of what they do. These questions and scenarios got the students thinking about real world experiences. They really had to think like professionals!

Our own Janet Brown and Jothsna Harris also got to be involved. On day four, Janet led a tour of the Greenway Building and Jothsna provided a personalized storytelling workshop where each intern worked on telling their climate story.

Field trips were a big part of this internship and students got to experience some great places including: MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator), District Energy biomass plant, Science Museum of Minnesota, Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties where the Department of Commerce has a weatherization site, and Delano Public Utilities. Not only did these field trips provide students with real life information, they were able to ask the experts any questions they had. I was inspired each day by their curiosity and excitement when learning about energy efficiency, weatherization, the energy grid, and climate change.

At the end of August, students got the opportunity to talk with MN State Fair goers about energy through the Eco Experience exhibits. With the exhibits run by the Department of Commerce, students were able to share their knowledge with the public. Students helped fair goers navigate a large display of LED light bulbs to decide which bulbs will fit their needs. They also showed them the Solar Suitability App that displays how suitable resident’s roofs are for solar. There were a number of energy efficiency displays that students became quite familiar with, even though none of them are homeowners yet.

Keep an eye out for our students’ blogs, like Marisa’s and Olivia’s, and others that will be coming soon. Each student focused in on something different to reflect on the internship and apply it to their strengths and goals.

“This internship has made me think of a concept that is much bigger than me and has made me want to help the world make a change for the better.”
—Olivia Veloske

“Providing a stronger understanding of energy and sustainability in our world can have a ripple effect in the ways this knowledge is utilized. In my upcoming years as a designer/creative, I plan to incorporate the valuable lessons and information I learned through this internship into my work, and to promote and appreciate the importance of curiosity and integrity that was encouraged along the way.”
—Katey Langer

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