Ty Collins

Author: Ty Collins

Career Spotlight: Environmental Organizations

If asked to name a concern of global importance, many Lawrence students would cite the changing climate and its impact on the environment. Some go so far as to declare environmental justice as their desired career path. In fact, some past Lawrentians have already done so, choosing to turn their passion for the improving the environment into a career, by working for an environmental organization. 

While environmental organizations may occasionally be a private company or corporation, most of the time, such entities are part of local, state or federal government, or they may be a non-governmental organization (NGO), or an intergovernmental organization.  In addition to climate change, other environmental issues they focus on include pollution, waste, resource depletion and human overpopulation.

In the United States, the primary federal government agencies tasked with serving and protecting the environment include the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.  Most states have their own versions of some of these agencies as well. 

The list of NGO’s in the United States and around the world committed to environmental protection is too long to list, but you have likely heard of many of the larger ones, including the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Greenpeace

All of these government agencies and NGO’s hire interns, so if you are looking for a place to get hands-on experience in protecting the environment and fighting climate change, consider a summer internship for such an agency or organization.  Please note that government agencies hire their summer interns very early, so you should start looking as early as this fall for internships in the summer of 2023.

Another great way to get experience in this area is by joining one of the many Lawrence environmental clubs and organizations, some of which are Greenfire, the Lawrence University Environmental Organization, the LUCC Sustainability Committee and the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden (SLUG)

Think Tanks

What are Think Tanks?
A Think Tank, as defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary is “an institute, corporation, or group organized to study a particular subject (such as a policy issue or a scientific problem) and provide information, ideas, and advice.” Put simply, Think Tanks generate knowledge to inform public policy decisions and sway public opinion.

What does an average workday look like for a Think Tank employee?
Hugo Brady, a Senior Fellow at the Center for European Reform perhaps best summarizes what one can expect out of the workday as a “think tanker,” generally speaking. He states that “A think tanker has to be able to think like an academic, act like a diplomat, and write like a journalist.” Brady’s description likely does not capture the experience of every researcher in the industry; however, it seems that the common image of a lonely scientist spending hours poring over data sets in an overly ornate building poorly encapsulates the nature of think tank work. Variety, rather than monotony, seems to be the norm.

How does one work at a Think Tank?
The first step to working at a Think Tank is finding one that suites your ideological preferences as the ideologies of Think Tanks can be wide ranging. Once you have identified a Think Tank for which you could envision yourself working, the next step is to browse the Think Tank’s website for employment opportunities. Information about openings and internship opportunities should be readily available. For senior positions at most Think Tanks, PhDs are standard; however, Research Assistant positions are often open to individuals with undergraduate degrees and most Think Tanks have internship positions for undergraduate students. To browse through a list of 3,316 prominent Think Tanks around the globe we recommend this website.

-Jonathan Hogan ’23, Career Peer Educator