Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: Research/Organizing Intern
Student: Government Senior
The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest environmental organization in the United States. The Lonestar State Chaper office is located at 1202 San Antonio here in Austin, Texas. The Sierra Club is a non-profit organization with the overall goal of environmental preservation. Therefore it is important that Sierra Club interns have a passion for the environment!
Interns with the Sierra Club will work with a professional staff-person to learn many of the skills used in grassroots organizing. The internship will provide the opportunity to participate with all elements of the campaign or to focus on one main aspect, depending upon the intern’s interest. All majors are welcome to apply, however the internship may especially interest those focusing on government, environmental science, geography, English, or political science.
There is no typical day in the life of a Sierra Club intern. Every day may be different depending upon what the intern wishes to focus on throughout the semester. Interns are required to complete at least 3 “office hours” a week, not including any necessary meetings with the supervisor or professional staff-person. Monday nights from 6-8 pm are reserved for phone banking, in which the interns will reach out to Sierra Club members to bring them up to date on what the organization is currently working on, and inform them of upcoming meetings and various activities. Every other Friday there trainings. Trainings often include guest speakers and educate the interns on things like lobbying, resume building, and specific environmental issues the Sierra Club is focusing on. Other duties include data entry, tabling, canvassing, and performing research for the intern’s specific staff-person. A typical week requires approximately 12 hours of the intern’s time, although some weeks will require more time, and some less.
Spring 2011 Site Review
Student: American Studies/Plan I Senior
With the internship program at the Sierra Club, there really is no typical “day in the life.” The program here is set up so that the interns are able to gain experience in a wide-variety of contexts, but most importantly the program is structured to emphasize the basics of grassroots organizing and community outreach. The internship consists of 10 to 15 hours of work each week: two hours of phone banking on Monday nights to regional Sierra Club members to promote events or raise awareness of campaign issues; two hours of intern workshops on a biweekly basis; three hours of tabling outreach more or less on a biweekly basis as well; and then at least three hours of time spent in the office doing work on projects for a Sierra Club staff member.
As to this last facet of the internship program, each intern is assigned to a different staff member within the office depending on personal interest and length of time spent within the program. New interns typically start on the organizing and media side of Sierra Club’s campaigns and are assigned to staff members accordingly to help organize events, do general community outreach, write press releases, letters-to-the-editor, blogs, etc. Further into the program (two semesters or more) interns are given the opportunity to work with other office staff on issues relating to policy, conservation, and other campaigns goals of the Sierra Club. This semester I have been fortunate to work side by side with the Club’s policy guru, Cyrus Reed, who does a large amount of the lobbying at the capital while the legislature is in session. I have worked on a myriad of projects for Cyrus, dictated primarily by what he needs at the capital for the work he will be doing in the coming days. It has been a great experience as I have essentially received a crash course in the many facets of clean energy policy through hands-on industry research and analysis of legislation.