Environmental Resilience Institute Internship Grant Reflection: Department of Energy, Weatherization Intergovernmental Programs Office
Internship Location: Department of Energy, Weatherization Intergovernmental Programs Office
Journal Entry #1:
Thanks to UVA’s Environmental Resilience Institute, I’ve been able to go on this impactful journey through my summer internship at the Department of Energy. I intern in the Weatherization Intergovernmental Programs Office under the State Energy Program and Strategic Interagency Initiatives teams. The entire office works with connecting states and local communities to initiatives and resources that help with energy resilience and management. This includes collaboration with other agencies such as the National Association of State Energy Officials, whom I’ve been able to work with several times.
My research this summer has revolved around on how states, territories, tribes, and local communities can leverage federal funding to aid them in pre- and post-disaster energy resilience and mitigation strategies. It’s been enlightening to research and create documentation with the help of federal and state and local stakeholders that helps them in real-life, as compared to mock-up situations that we do in class. Moreover, when I return to UVA, someone can continue my work.
Other than my research, the smaller day-to-day tasks really show what public service in this space is really about. Everyone I work with has shown that they care for this work and have dedication to all of the projects they complete. Surprisingly, I’ve also learned a lot of technical aspects that I didn’t consider, but know now that i will need. Overall, I feel privileged for this experience by the Department of Energy and I can’t wait for what the rest of the summer brings.
Journal Entry #2:
This summer I interned for the Department of Energy’s Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs in Washington D.C. In this office, I directly worked under the State Energy Program (SEP) with Virginia Castro and Strategic & Interagency Initiatives (SI2) with Krystal Laymon. These two teams work with state, local, tribal and territorial governments, sister public agencies and the private industry on energy resilience and management. This is by providing funding for projects, connecting agencies and governments to available resources and providing technical assistance. It was overall an eye-opening and satisfying experience that allowed me to learn about the workplace, get my foot into the world of energy, and make an impact in public service.
The overarching research question I focused on was how state, local, tribal, and territorial governments could leverage federal funding for energy resilience and mitigation for pre- and post-disaster events. This question was inspired by Puerto Rico’s struggle with Hurricane Maria, and other smaller scale events across the country. I researched this topic by speaking directly with private and public stakeholders such as the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the state of Michigan’s Energy Office. Moreover, I was able to attend energy conferences to learn more about current energy needs and energy projects.
While researching FEMA funding opportunities I was fortunate to stumble across the Building Resilience and Infrastructure Communities program. It is currently undergoing planning and review and will be implemented next year. It’s important because it will replace FEMA’s main funding program for projects that focus on pre-disaster resilience and mitigation. It’s a big deal among public and private agencies because it allows for more funding and allows more opportunity for energy resilience. Agencies such as DOE and NASEO can help their state and local government partners in shaping this new program to meet their needs and help them in their applications for funding.
Aside from this research topic I was also able to help both SI2 and SEP with their ongoing projects through research, document write-ups, proof-reading, administrative duties, etc. For example, I helped SEP create and publish their summer edition quarterly update that goes out to all their stakeholders. It detailed potential funding opportunities, example of energy funding use, upcoming events and conferences, as well as useful tools and resources. This experience refined my communication and organization skills while showing how an office functions. It was perfect in preparing me for my future job in an office environment.
When I wasn’t in the office, I was able to experience D.C. through DOE’s intern program. There were workshops, seminars, and field trips. Some of the places we visited were the Capitol. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the African American History Museum, and more. Our location was also close to the Department of Agriculture’s Farmer’s Market, L’Enfant Plaza Shopping Center, and Food Trucks.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I’m grateful to the Department of Energy and the Environmental Resilience Institute for allowing me this opportunity.