Want to pursue a career that contributes to a better future for ourselves and our planet? Pursuing a summer internship with an organization that prioritizes sustainability can be a wonderful opportunity to explore your interest—and open up doors for your career after college. Through the Sustainability Internship Grant Program, offered by NYU’s Office of Sustainability, NYU students can apply to receive grants of $3,000 each to participate in sustainability summer internships in sustainability-minded organizations. In addition, students receive mentoring and career guidance in professional development sessions that take place throughout the summer.     

Read on to learn how two NYU undergrads with an eye toward sustainability landed their dream internships and took advantage of the program.

A collage of two images: 1) A large collection of plastic and aluminum cans 2) A recycling bin
A Lesson in Sustainable Business

Emma Monson (Class of 2023) first learned about TerraCycle when the company’s founder and CEO visited her first-year course Business and Society as a guest speaker. Emma is concentrating in Sustainable Business and Management with a minor in Social Entrepreneurship at NYU’s Stern School of Business. “After that, I continued to be interested in TerraCycle,” she says. “When I happened to find an internship listing on their website, I knew I had to apply.” 

TerraCycle offers a range of recycling platforms to allow everyone to recycle practically everything. They partner with companies and brands who sponsor the recycling of their products after consumers use them. They are a great option for students looking for sustainability summer internships.  According to Emma, “I believe it is so important to consume and dispose of waste properly and in the best way for the environment. I have also always wanted to work for a social enterprise, a company that focuses on achieving their mission over profits.” Emma also wanted to gain experience in business operations. “TerraCycle is firstly guided by their mission in sustainability, but since they are a for-profit company I was also exposed to company operations to improve profits,” she says.

“Working toward a mission you believe in with others has great power and can make every day interesting and engaging.”

As part of TerraCycle’s development team, Emma helped secure partnerships with brands. She explains, “On a typical day, I would sit in on sales calls with potential partners. Participating in these sales calls was a great learning experience because even though TerraCycle is a mission-driven business, their potential clients usually aren’t. So it is important to make the financial case to them and show them how we would improve their profits. I also assisted in the development of a prospect pipeline by contact mining for brands that would make good partners in the future. I put together case studies on current recycling programs and helped create slide decks for sales meetings.” 

Emma credits NYU’s Office of Sustainability with contributing to her success in finding sustainability summer internships. “First, they offered funding so I was able to take an unpaid internship and advance my career and learning. They also offered great professional development sessions that allowed me to explore other areas in the sustainability sector. And being in a cohort with other students who received the Sustainability Internship Grant meant I was part of a community that I could lean on and learn from.”

Two people touching a large decorative wall of potted plants
Contributing to a More Sustainable Future One Product Rating at a Time

Yagmur Gungor (Class of 2023), an Economics major minoring in Social Entrepreneurship, is interested in the intersection of design thinking and sustainability. She wants to help develop solutions for the planet’s needs through design. “I believe that a human-centered approach is critical for the linear economy’s transformation into a circular economy because sustainability is a collective issue,” she says. 

“I'm particularly interested in the intersection of design thinking and sustainability, where we can solve complex problems of the planet's need for sustainability through design and create impact.”

Yagmur took a summer internship as a sustainability analyst at Voiz, a mission-driven start-up that gives consumers the knowledge to choose more sustainable products through sustainability ratings. The organization aims to raise awareness about the impact of individual purchases and encourage responsible consumption. As a sustainability analyst, Yagmur was tasked with researching and analyzing the sustainability of products and services to add to the company’s growing database. She also worked on the education team to develop a sustainability advocacy curriculum for high schools. 

At a the professional workshops called Public Narratives, which was led by the Leadership Initiative through the NYU Office of Sustainability, Yagmur explored how her own history and values might translate to the path she decides to take in the future, and it led her to seek sustainability summer internships. “It helped me connect the story of my life with the change I want to see in the world,” she says. “I reflected on my life story and developed a narrative to create a compelling call to action.” 

Yagmur’s relationship with Voiz didn’t end after her summer internship. She explains, “Now I’m working as a sustainability analyst lead. I also helped to establish a Voiz NYU Chapter with the mission of encouraging sustainability advocacy on campus. One of the projects we’re working on is creating the Voiz Art Collective, which aims to raise awareness about sustainability and create impact through design.”

Cindy Nowicki is a writer and content strategist in NYU’s Office of Marketing Communications. She enjoys meeting with students to learn about their experiences and telling the stories of all the wonderful things happening at NYU. Cindy holds a BA in English from the University of Richmond and studied English literature at the University of Bristol, England. A Brooklyn native, she still discovers new things about New York City every day. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young sons.