An Unforgettable Experience: Liberal Arts and Engineering Major Interns at Clinton Foundation
Last fall, liberal arts and engineering studies major Gabrielle Amar joined the Clinton Foundation as an intern, ready to take on the foundation’s mission to solve some of the world’s most daunting challenges — improving global health, increasing equal opportunities, addressing childhood obesity, and combating climate change — “through the power of creative collaboration.”
The foundation gathers the best and brightest to its highly sought-after internship program to tackle these 21st century challenges.
“After I applied for the internship, I went on LinkedIn to see my competition. A lot of the people were from Ivy Leagues, and I thought ‘I’m not going to have a chance, but I’m going for it!’”
With Amar’s credentials — international team project manager for Engineers Without Borders, Water Energy Sustainability Training Team lab researcher, Cal Poly Solar Decathlon team member, just to name a few — nobody was surprised that she was offered not one, but two highly coveted fall 2014 internships with the foundation in New York City.
Amar chose to intern with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), a sector of the foundation that works to develop public and private partnerships to tackle climate change while helping improve local economies. The internship allowed Amar to thrive in a project-based learning environment in which she could expand her knowledge of and passion for renewable energy. She spent a majority of her time working on the expansion of the Home Energy Affordability Loan Program, which partners with companies to offer employee energy benefits (similar to a 401K program) to retrofit homes to be more energy efficient.
“There’s no silver-bullet solution to the climate issue itself,” Amar said. “I really think that it’s going to take cooperation, not only among businesses, but also among government agencies and stakeholders. I see that happening now; a lot of businesses are making that shift.”
She also worked to compile policy resources to support a diesel replacement program in Jamaica; studied the potential opportunities of new technology; and was involved in efforts to improve Grounded Hope, a university workshop program that uses software to simulate the implications of carbon and other climate policies.
“Beyond the work, what was most beneficial for me, were the interactions with partners,” she said. “Not only were my colleagues motivational, but they engaged with the interns as equals, allowing me to bring what I know to the table.”
Outside of work, Amar was encouraged to explore New York City. The foundation internship program offered tickets to a variety of lectures and cultural events, including an opportunity to hear former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak and answer questions.
“They try to make it a well-rounded educational experience beyond the internship,” she said. “[The experience] broadened my horizons to what is actually out there, in terms of opportunities. This was a really huge stepping stone for me — into this industry and into personal development — and figuring out what it is I want to do, who I am, and how I can use my strengths to contribute [to the world].”