2012 PFIG Recipient Rudhdi Karnik
College of Arts & Sciences
Government and South Asian Studies Major
2013 Graduation Year
Notes on the first week
It's hard to believe that my first week is already over! So many great things have already happened. Monday was orientation day and I knew within minutes of stepping inside the gorgeous, open, sustainably-built office that I was in the right place for me. Everyone at Greenpeace is incredibly friendly and eager to help the interns learn as much as they can during their internships. The other interns are really friendly too, and I can tell that I'll have some great friends by the time the summer is over.
I'm really excited about my position at Greenpeace. I will be the Governance and Internal Communications department intern. My primary responsibility will be to work on the weekly internal newsletter that goes out to all of Greenpeace USA. My job is to write, edit, and collect info about all the various campaigns and the progress that Greenpeace makes each week. The newsletter is a great tool for the organization because it allows people from every department to stay updated on what's happening and serves as a weekly reminder of the goals that we are working towards. I didn't expect to get journalism experience, so I'm pleasantly surprised and eager to begin. My other responsibilities include attending weekly meetings and taking notes, doing small research projects, and helping with any of the various and random tasks that come up.
During orientation, we were asked to set some goals for the summer, both professional and personal. Professionally, I would like to learn as much as I can about non-profit management from this internship. I'm in the perfect position to learn as much as I can, especially since my desk is right next to the Executive Director's office. I plan to take complete advantage of my location by keeping my ears and eyes open at all times to absorb as much information as I can. I also set a goal of meeting at least one person in every department in the office because I really want to learn about what everyone does and how the various pieces of a non-profit organization fit together. Plus, I love making new friends. My personal goal is to challenge myself to take on tasks that I may not be completely familiar with and to try new things while at Greenpeace.
Halfway through this internship and I’m already beginning to dread having to leave on the last day. My time here has definitely been full of surprises and continually altering expectations, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of my goals was to learn how non-profits operate, and I’ve gained a lot of knowledge in that arena. In a lot of ways, non-profits operate just like for-profit companies. However, what I love most about the non-profit world is how passionate people are on a daily basis and how the work is driven by love for a certain cause and bettering the world, rather than for maximizing profits.
Another one of my goals was to meet at least one person in every department and I’m definitely getting there. After I set that goal, I realized that there were more employees and departments in the office than I’d realized, but that has made achieving this goal all the more fun. I love being able to walk downstairs for a quick break and chatting with several people along the way or hearing a "Hey, Rudhdi!" as I pass by someone's desk. Not only does this friendly atmosphere allow me to feel comfortable and confident, but it allows me to learn more just from having conversations with different people throughout the day. I’ve also gotten very comfortable with my weekly task of putting out the organization-wide newsletter. At first, I was really intimidated by the amount of information I have to collect and consolidate in a matter of days and the number of people I have to be in contact with to get the latest information on Greenpeace’s campaigns to report on weekly. Now, I’ve really gotten into the swing of things and it feels like second nature to me.
I’ve gotten so comfortable with this task, in fact, that I’ve begun to take on extra projects in other departments. I’m currently working on fall intern recruitment for HR, which has given me a glimpse into how hiring practices work. I’m also trying to put together a "day of promotion" during which we’ll ask Greenpeace employees to post pre-written blurbs on their social media accounts and e-mails to spread the word about internship opportunities. I’m really excited about this because I’m learning more about the different ways in which social media can be used, beyond just posting a funny link to share with friends. I even have a meeting set up tomorrow morning with the online team to learn how to update the internship page on the Greenpeace website. I’ve already been talking to the graphic designer, who works at the office in San Francisco, to put together a collage of intern photos to use for advertising (see below). I love how much responsibility the current Intern Coordinator has given me. It's been so rewarding to be able to take ownership of a project and see it through to execution. I just hope everything will be successful!
When I’m not working on the newsletter or intern recruitment, I’ve also started helping out the Toxics campaigners. I’m currently working on a letter that will be sent to Senator Scott Brown, asking him to help support stronger chemical security legislation. I've also been to the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center a few times to research toxic chemical facilities around the country. Working with the Toxics team has been a great experience because I’m learning a lot about the legislative/policy side of non-profit work. There will be an event outside the White House next week to deliver a stack of petitions to President Obama and take photos with a large coalition of environmental groups—I can’t wait to go!
On top of all these projects, I’ve also met some truly wonderful people at the office, who have become both friends and role models. I’m eager to see what other adventures the coming weeks will bring!
The end of my internship has been a complete whirlwind, and I can’t believe it’s over. It was tough saying goodbye to all my office friends today, but I know that we’ll stay in touch.
When I pause to reflect for a moment, I realize how much I’ve grown both professionally and personally this summer. I’m proud that I accomplished all of my goals. I made friends in every department, and in doing so, I learned about how the various parts of the Greenpeace headquarters fit together and work with each other. This was extremely helpful when I had to plan and execute the ‘Day of Promotion’ for intern recruitment. I talked to the media and communications team, and they were able to walk me through the process of writing media hits and blurbs to advertise. The promotions were so successful that we received 200 more applicants for the fall in less than a week. It was so rewarding to know that I could organize and pull off such a successful project. I’ve also enjoyed planning some fun office events, and I hope the tradition will continue after I leave. My co-worker and I initiated a Friday afternoon dessert series every other Friday over the summer to get the office interacting and to encourage better communication. It seems to have be a hit because we’ve started to receive e-mails asking when the next event would be and what people could bring.
My work for the Toxics team also went really well. I wrote a letter to send to Senator Scott Brown, asking him to support EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in using her authority under the Clean Air Act to enforce policy. This letter was sent to Senator Brown’s offices and to several media outlets, and I hope that it will be picked up soon. Though my internship is over, I will still be in contact with the Toxics team to make sure this project is finished. I may even have the opportunity to be interviewed by newspapers.
Though I’m looking forward to going back to UVA for my fourth and final year, this internship has shown me that I’m also ready for The Real World. Before this summer, I was worried about graduating, wondering what I would do and what a full-time job was really like. Now I’m excited to look for a job in the nonprofit/NGO sector next year. The nonprofit world is a great fit for me, and I can’t wait to find out what’s next. DC—I’ll be back!