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Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Communication Internship Reflections


Alyssa Engebretson

When I first heard about a Communications Internship with the Office of Energy & Climate Change I knew I had to apply. I felt a sense of clarity and knew this opportunity was meant for me. I have always been hyper-aware of how long my showers are. I don’t like leaving the lights on unnecessarily and I am always looking for ways to drive less (and not just because I’m not a fan of driving). In general, I find it silly to be wasteful, especially when we can control our energy use and consumption (for the most part). I got this mentality from my babysitter when I was five, I called her Miss Sam. She always reused plastic bags, composted and used a manual lawn mower (she didn’t mess around). She would make it a point to only let each of us use one cup for water a day because it wasn’t necessary to have multiple cups to wash for one person. So, I owe it to her because her emphasis on sustainability and environmental consciousness were impressionable and led me to this opportunity.

I wanted this internship opportunity to learn more about climate change and work with local organizations who focus on mitigation- and that's exactly what I was able to do. When I interviewed with Kathy this summer we clicked right away. We talked about how as a society we should all work together to make the world a better place: if we have the resources and knowledge why not share it. As a Communications Intern I was able to share lots of incredible stories about businesses, organizations and community leaders who are implementing energy efficient technologies and mitigating the effects of climate change. These stories highlighted community efforts and started conversations about our need for climate action. One of my favorite parts of the internship was being able to connect with Kathy, Mel and Mingxin on a weekly basis to hear about their week and discuss climate change action and topics that we are passionate about.

For each of the stories I talked to business owners and individuals to get a better understanding of their business, organization or their individual actions and thier mission and successes. At first I found it challenging to write these stories because I was used to the writing style used in academic papers, but with a slight shift in approach I improved immensely. As I continued with my internship it became much easier and more natural to interview individuals, as well. I started to know exactly what questions to ask to fully capture their story.

Through the internship and with the connection to the county I was able to attend several online events; Sustain Dane’s Sustainable Breakfast Series Summit and a Youth in the Sustainability Movement panel. During the Youth in the Sustainability Movement panel I learned about UW’s club, Re-wear It. The main goal of the club is to provide education about the negative environmental impacts of the fashion industry. After the panel I followed the club on Instagram and attended to their first two clothing swaps- which was such a cool experience. If you aren’t familiar with clothing swaps you bring clothes that you no longer wear and exchange them for someone else’s (it’s like Goodwill but free).

I was also able to help with the Climate Champions program. I reached out to businesses by emailing and calling them to encourage them to apply and get recognized for their climate mitigation efforts. It was extremely rewarding to see how my outreach translated to new Climate Champion applicants. I got to attend the press event for our Climate Champions program at Forest Edge Elementary School. This was a full circle moment for me because I interviewed Andy Weiland, the business manager at the Forest Edge for a story on their net-zero school and then I was able to be there to congratulate him and some of our other climate champion recipients. I also got a tour of the school. Overall, I am grateful for this internship and for listening to my intuition because this internship has given me a lot of great experience and connected me to great people in my community.

Alyssa Engebretson

Alyssa Engebretson


Alyssa is a senior at Edgewood College studying Communications with a concentration in Media and Message. She is passionate about fighting climate change and is excited to connect with the community and articulate the benefits of creating a more sustainable world through decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmentally friendly practices.



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