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The Sustainability Institute at Penn State
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Cory Steinle

Major: Labor and Employment Relations, Communication Arts and Sciences
Minor: Business and Liberal Arts, English, History, Legal Environment of Business
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about this experience through my speaker at State of State, Doug Goodstein, who was my boss in this role. It was personal networking that helped me land the job.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I had three primary responsibilities as a Sustainability Coordinator Intern - serving as the Executive Director of the Council of Sustainable Leaders, planning the first-ever Sustainability Summit at Penn State, and lastly, working to promote the efforts of the Sustainability Institute to incoming freshman through New Student Orientation programs. The Council of Sustainable Leaders is a roundtable organization of the seven most impactful organizations in sustainability at Penn State; as the leader, I planned 20 programming events at Penn State for the 2017-2018 calendar year. Some of these events include the Sustainability Showcase Series, which debuted to over 100 guests this past Friday, with Dr. Michael Mann speaking on his climate change research and activism. The Sustainability Summit was eventually postponed until 2017 due to lack of funding, but I spent around 60 hours working on a $50,000 grant proposal, as well as creating all of the strategic plans and documents for a future intern to execute the plan. Lastly, I spent around 60-70 hours at New Student Orientations promoting the Sustainability Institute to freshmen and helping them understand how much broader sustainability is than just climate change.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Honestly, this experience did not impact me very much academically. I did not use any of the technical skills that I learned as a rhetoric major and was not applying theoretical principles in an academic setting. However, this experience did help me understand that I want to spend my next two years interning at companies that have a direct correlation with my new field of study - Labor and Employment Relations. Interning in Human Resources will provide me the opportunity to understand and apply what I am learning in the classroom to the real world and give me a taste of what it is really like to work in industry. The best application of my academics in this internship was strategy and operations. I took an honors management class first semester that focused on overall strategies, overcoming biases, and more. I think this class helped me prepare student programming events that would succeed. Without my knowledge from the class, I would not have considered a lot of things that would have ultimately made the programming fail. Since I considered these obstacles, we were able to mitigate some of their impacts.

I would recommend this experience to anyone with a serious interest in sustainability or higher education.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

Right now, I do not have an entirely clear understanding of what I want to do for the rest of my life. However, I do have a pretty solid leaning towards the field of law. I also like human resources, because of its close interrelation to law. I want to work over the next two summers to determine whether or not I like law and make sure I have solid post-graduation plans. This internship made me realize that I really need to find something I like to do for the rest of my life. It also made me understand that working in higher education at the level of administrator would not be the place for me to do that.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience to anyone with a serious interest in sustainability or higher education. The hours are flexible, the boss (Doug Goodstein) is great, and the work tends to be interesting and variable (if you are interested in sustainability).

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program instilled a certain sense of integrity within me to complete the internship experience to the best of my abilities, even if I did not love the work. The Paterno Fellows Program also gave me a really successful model off of which I based some of the programming events I planned; The popular Paterno Fellows luncheons were the model I used to create the Sustainability Showcase Series. In addition, some of my peers in the Paterno Fellows program were connections I used during my internship to help make some of these events happen. Without their support, I would not have been able to secure some of the meetings to get financial support from Deans, connections in order to get specific rooms not typically available to student organizations (Huck Life Sciences Bridge), and other support that helped to make all of these things happen.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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