Meilin Chan, a Master of Environmental Management student, spent the summer at Weyerhaeuser as a corporate sustainability intern.
Each year, Nicholas School of the Environment students complete internships with organizations around the world. These internships provide valuable opportunities to gain career-related experience and build a professional network.
Duke Environment recently caught up with Chan to learn more about the summer experience.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT YOUR INTERNSHIP AND HOW ARE YOU USING THE SKILLS YOU'VE LEARNED AT THE NICHOLAS SCHOOL?
"I’m incredibly lucky that my supervisor has allowed me to hop onto projects that I express interest in. Most of my projects have been assessing company Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure gaps for a variety of frameworks, as well as helping prep for interest from EU investors by understanding a couple sustainable finance frameworks developed by the European Commission.
My Business and Environment courses gave me a lot of base knowledge surrounding ESG and reporting frameworks which helps with not getting lost in the alphabet soup of sustainability acronyms. The Nic School finance course has also been a huge help when reading EU regulatory documents for the sustainable finance frameworks. There is a lot of finance-heavy terminology and having a base understanding of finance makes it easier to explain and translate the document for my team.
I have also been able to stretch my quantitative skills while working on projects involving GHG accounting for scope 3 emissions and understanding emissions factors for scope 2 emissions. I took an RStudio-based data analysis course last semester and although I don’t use R in my internship, the course helped me build a lot of confidence in handling and manipulating large sets of data."
HOW DID THE NICHOLAS SCHOOL HELP YOU DURING YOUR INTERNSHIP SEARCH?
"Everyone I’ve met through the Nic School, whether a current student or alum, has been incredibly kind and happy to talk about their academic and professional experiences. It was extremely helpful to have so many upperclassmen and alumni willing to talk about and give advice on the internship search and application experience. During the spring semester, the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) also sent out email blasts with open internship applications relevant to all the MEM concentrations. I also set up multiple appointments with CPDC throughout the spring semester to help with catering my resume/cover letter. Deanna, assistant director of career development at CPDC, was a tremendous help in making sure I felt confident for my final interview with Weyerhaeuser."
HOW WILL THIS EXPERIENCE HELP YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
"My dream is to work at the intersection of businesses and ecosystems, so I feel extremely lucky to intern with a company in the timberlands/forests space. I’ve learned so much about how a sustainability team mobilizes to build company-wide strategy and cohesion around sustainability. During team and project meetings, I get to hear amazing examples from my team of how to communicate nitty gritty sustainability details in a way that is accessible to all stakeholders. It’s also been a great opportunity to see rising trends in the corporate sustainability and ESG space with more investors asking about biodiversity and social responsibility/transparency. My supervisor let me help with the CDP Climate disclosure on top of assessing other frameworks which has been a wonderful experience. A significant portion of corporate sustainability involves ESG reporting, and I’m glad my internship let me build confidence in that area.
Outside of working on projects, I’ve been able to talk one-on-one with my team and hear about their experience in sustainability. My team has helped me build a lot of confidence in working in the corporate space, and I feel ready to hit the ground running when I graduate in May. It’s been incredibly inspiring to be a part of a team that is extremely passionate about what they do. Everyone I’ve met during my internship is a great model of where I hope to be in a couple years."