“Interest in climate adaptation?” I received an email with this subject line in the summer of 2013 from Managing Director Joyce Coffee. Though I considered myself literate in climate change issues at the time, I had to look up exactly what climate adaptation meant. Three years later, I am wrapping up my time as an intern at ND-GAIN and I consider myself lucky. It’s a rarity for college students to stay with one organization for more than a year or two. It’s even rarer to get experience in a specialized and quickly growing field before graduation. But that is what I’ve accomplished through ND-GAIN and it’s what I see happening now as more and more interns are added to the team.
Attending a university such as Notre Dame comes with perks: passionate professors, great course selection, and a top notch career center. But today, to truly gain an edge, college students need the all-important internship. This is where the good students are separated from the great. It isn’t enough to get good grades anymore, work experience trumps all. In job interview after job interview, I was asked “tell us about your previous work experience.” Since I had a good answer, I’ve secured two internships in Washington, D.C. and study abroad in China.
As students, we owe our success to our parents, teachers, and professors. But as people, we owe our successes to our mentors and champions. My internship at ND-GAIN changed me from good student to great student, and perhaps also to a better person. Finding a passion early in college is a blessing and I hope other Notre Dame students (and all students) come to have a passion for climate adaptation as well.
Sarah Senseman worked as a Junior Associated at ND-GAIN from August 2015 – April 2016 and as an intern from August 2013 – August 2015. Her work includes contributions to the ND-GAIN Annual Meeting, the Corporate Adaptation Prize, the Urban Adaptation Assessment, and other online content.
She begins as a Research Analyst at Obsidian Analysis in summer 2016.