Carnegie Mellon University

Mengxi Tan

Internship: Greenpeace East Asia

Master’s student Mengxi Tan spent her summer as an intern with Greenpeace East Asia in Beijing, China.

CEE: Tell us about the work you were doing for Greenpeace East Asia.

Greenpeace East Asia has a program called Detox Campaign that aims to eliminate toxic chemicals. Several teams work on various issues and I was part of the water team.

Interns were treated like full-time associates and got assigned actual work. My assignment was to collect water-related news, primarily collecting information about environmental regulations, policies, and news in a certain province in China. I would summarize information to be presented to the campaign, and create maps for investigations. I also did some English-Chinese translation work.

I was lucky enough to learn many different sides of what goes into a project and gained first-hand experience of how a project was planned, developed, and completed.

CEE: What was your favorite part of your internship?

I think the whole experience was very eye-opening and challenging. I had never worked a manufacturing job before, and seeing how much work that the environmental engineers put into understanding the plant and the manufacturing process really showed me how well-rounded environmental engineers have to be to work in whatever field they’re in.

CEE: What has been the most surprising or unexpected aspect of your experience?

What surprised me most was that people there are very open to new ideas, even the ideas that were from some newbies like me. We held a group meeting every Monday morning for weekly review. During the meeting, everyone could share their opinions on a particular issue and people didn’t take any of those ideas for granted.

CEE: Were there any CEE classes that helped to prepare you for this internship?

There is not one specific class that stands out, but the skills I gained from my CEE classes, like planning and completing a project in a team environment, prepared me well to work in the group.

CEE: How has this internship influenced your career goals?

This experience has made me more certain of my goal to be an environmental engineer. During my internship, I became more aware of the water quality problems in China and that a lot needs to be done to improve the current situation.