Jessica Citrola: Internship Expereince

During my the summer before my last year in college, I received an internship with the Environmental Research and Education Foundation in Raleigh. EREF is a company that conducts research and provides educational opportunities in the field of waste management. I was hired as a research intern for a nationwide food waste study that would examine the amount of food waste and composition of the waste stream within various sectors, such as k-12 schools and hospitality. During the summer, my coworkers and I developed ways in which we could measure food waste among these sectors and focused on schools across the country. We decided to divide the waste streams in schools between food waste, recycling, and trash and will have the schools participating in the study send us their weight measurements for each waste stream. As of December, we are still in the process of having schools sign up for the study. I have also helped in analyzing sustainability reports, developing marketing tools, creating surveys, and reading reports for research related to our project. I have enjoyed my experience with EREF and used my time there for credit for ES 496.This external learning experience complemented my environmental sciences degree and taught me valuable lessons in research and project management.  Working at EREF made me realize that I would be happy working with a research company after graduation, but I hope to work on a project that involves a global environmental issue. This internship applied to my degree because I gained real world experience on researching the issues of food waste and methane emissions from landfills. I also learned how private companies can be influential leaders in increasing awareness and initiating policies on these national environmental issues.