Carnegie Mellon University

Roseanne Usnay (CEE ’19) is interning for the environmental program at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint, Michigan.

August 07, 2018

Internship: Helping Michigan Clean Water Nonprofit Review United Nations’ SDGs

Roseanne Usnay (CEE ’19) is interning for the environmental program at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint, Michigan. The foundation provides grants for both clean water projects in the Great Lakes region and clean energy projects in South America and Africa. Roseanne is enrolled in the integrated BS/MS program at CEE and just completed her undergraduate studies.

CEE: Tell us about your work this summer.

I’m helping the foundation to determine which United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) it wants to meet, which SDGs best match its focus, and which SDGs it should spend more time working on. I’m reviewing each environmental grant from the last few years and also assisting my supervisor in preparing for focus areas if the foundation decides to expand its clean water program globally.

I've also been researching programs that other foundations are funding for drinking water projects in developing countries. Additionally, I attend board meetings, ground-breaking ceremonies, and tour some of the funded projects.

CEE: How did you learn about the internship?

I found out about the internship through LinkedIn. I applied to both engineering firms and nonprofit organizations for my summer internship.

CEE: How did your coursework prepare you for this internship?

Last fall, I took Introduction to Sustainable Engineering, which is where I first learned about SDGs. My lab classes also really helped me to improve my technical writing—which makes creating reports much easier. Introduction to Environmental Ideas taught me the concept of environmental justice.

CEE: What do you enjoy the most about your internship?

The Mott Foundation is actively teaching me about different career opportunities within the nonprofit sector. Every week, we visit a nonprofit organization to learn what it does and to talk with the staff. We've met with presidents of foundations working exclusively in the lower-income areas of Flint. We've also met with the National Wildlife Federation, a law firm in Detroit, a museum/planetarium, fitness foundations, and congressman Dan Kildee.

I had the opportunity to shadow Wade Trim, a civil engineering, planning, and surveying firm which received a river restoration project grant from the Mott Foundation. The foundation accommodated my shadowing due to my engineering interest.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Michigan. I am Mott's first intern from outside of the state, so the staff has been very welcoming and has offered to show me around. Our work trips bought us to Detroit and Ann Arbor. On my own time, I've explored northern Michigan and the Great Lakes.

CEE: What advice do you have for current students?

Apply to internships early and don't be afraid to branch out. My long-term goal is to work on engineering projects in the nonprofit sector, mainly in lower-income communities and developing countries. This is why I applied not only to engineering firms but also nonprofit internships.