Perspectives from an RMI Summer Intern
RMI Interns test drive a career as they work on impactful projects advancing a cleaner, equitable, and prosperous future for all
Writing this as a college student, I dreaded working an internship. I had heard the horror stories of endless coffee runs, soul-sucking proofreading, staring at a computer screen for hours on end, and the underpaid (if paid at all) labor my peers endured in order to buff up their resumes. But in January 2022, with a mere 16 or so months separating me from graduation and release into the working world, I needed an internship. More than that, however, I wanted meaningful work. Was a meaningful internship too much to ask for? Absolutely not when it comes to RMI’s Internship Program. This past summer, I got an internship experience above and beyond what I was looking for in terms of professional development, invaluable experience, excellent work culture, and chances to collaborate with brilliant and kind people.
Each summer, RMI welcomes a cohort of interns to their Summer Intern Program for around 12 weeks of integrative and consequential project work within RMI. Interns work within a variety of programs at RMI. This past summer, interns’ work included researching and producing reports on the role of bioenergy’s role in Indonesia, authoring policy playbooks, leading translation efforts for internationally funded projects, uncovering system-level risks of some advocacy strategies, researching leading-edge case studies in India’s buildings, and much more.
The RMI Summer Intern Program is a win-win situation: Interns gain experience putting their education and skills to good use as they work in a well-respected, globally spanning organization while earning competitive wages; RMI gains not only the fresh insights and substantial results from interns’ work but also the chance to hire some of the brightest rising professionals in the clean energy field. The Intern Program functions as a hiring pipeline, allowing interns to “test drive” a career at RMI.
— Raivat Singhania, intern on RMI’s Third Derivative team in Summer 2022, and currently an Associate at Third Derivative.
Interns work directly with intern managers in their program — integrating into RMI teams, experiencing what a career at RMI and in that particular program would look like, and fostering mentorship opportunities. At the end of each internship, interns present their work and summer projects in presentations open to the entire organization (and occasionally, external stakeholders).
Every intern project helps advance RMI’s mission to transform the global energy system to secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. Some examples of projects interns worked on this past summer are listed below:
Michelle Lee interned with RMI’s Climate Finance Access Network (CFAN), assisting on a project to inform the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance, a process of the UN to set a new climate finance goal by 2025. Michelle stated that she started the internship with “very, very limited knowledge,” but by the end of her internship experience the CFAN team asked her to take the lead in drafting a formal submission that CFAN would submit to the UN.” Michelle explained, “I think this really represents that I was really getting the opportunity to learn, to take ownership of my work, and to participate and contribute to the team in a really substantive way.”
Anisha Krishnakumar interned with RMI’s Energy Transition Academy (ETA), creating a resource catalogue and strategy assessment for early-stage workstreams of both the Fellowship Program and Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE), two nascent programs within the ETA.
Nate Ramos interned with RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings Team, under the Building Electrification – Equity program. During the internship, Nate identified gaps in monetizing health impacts of building decarbonization, and initiated and established a working process between the team’s regional and federal staff.
Some other projects interns were involved in this past summer included:
- Creating financial models for distributed generators in the Caribbean (Rajat Khandelwal, Global South – Islands Energy Program)
- Authoring the Hydrogen Policy Playbook to support the US Program’s engagement with federal and state policymakers (Catherine Fraser, US Program – Federal Policy)
- Developing a new selection program for startups in RMI’s Third Derivative Program (Juan Estallela Giron, Third Derivative – Ecosystem Success Team),
- Setting foundational groundwork for RMI’s work in Vietnam (Selena Galeos, Carbon-free Electricity – Global Coal Transition).
The above examples represent a fraction of the many compelling projects our 45 interns worked on in 2022. Clearly, interns add plenty of value to RMI! But what value do interns receive? Based on an end-of-program survey interns took, what interns found most valuable about the program included:
- Seeing how much RMI is willing to invest in its interns/potential future employees via an all-expenses-covered trip to RMI offices in Boulder, CO; or Washington, D.C.
- Having the chance to test drive a career at RMI
- Being able to present their projects in a presentation open to the entire company
- Accessing opportunities for mentorship
- Having their own projects and taking ownership of their work
- Benefitting from support from their manager, team, and intern program
- Taking advantage of networking opportunities
- Meeting other interns sharing the same passion for clean energy
- Integrating into RMI teams and their work
- Being involved in challenging but rewarding scopes of intern projects, opportunities to learn more about different fields
- Meeting and collaborating with the kind, accomplished, and passionate RMIers!
Summing up the benefits for interns, Ariane DesRosiers, an intern on the Global South — Southeast Asia Program, said, “As someone who’s very passionate about the climate crisis and taking action on it, I found that RMI had a really good balance between both impact and theoretical abstract change but something that can be contextualized and put into practice and scaled very quickly.” She continued, saying, “The [think-do-scale] model was something I found really compelling, and I think RMI works with so many practitioners in the energy space and that kind of collaboration is something really unique.”
RMI also offers support for interns on various levels, such as accommodation flexibility with a remote intern option, competitive wages for interns, an emphasis on work-life balance, and willing RMIers ready to come alongside and collaborate with interns.
As RMI experienced massive expansion over the past year and continues to expand, the Intern Program provides not only fresh perspectives and brilliant minds to boost program work over the summer, but also the chance for RMI to bring on some of the best and brightest as we work toward a cleaner, prosperous future for all.