Name of intern: Carolina Rodríguez Balda
CEU department and program: Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy (MESP)
Year of graduation: 2020
Name of internship host organization: reNEW Technologies
Name of unit you interned at organization: Products R&D
Role: LCA Consultant (Remote Internship)
What did you do during your internship? Can you describe a typical day at work?
My task was to elaborate a life cycle analysis (LCA) of the Cycle cleaners, to identify environmental hot spots and establish the benchmark to improve the design and performance of the products and processes. An LCA is a study done to assess the environmental impact of products. In my case, it was a cleaning product. I conducted the LCA using a software program called OpenLCA.
The development of an LCA consists of four phases with many different activities ranging from literature review, data collection, building models, performing calculations, comparing and verifying results, so luckily not all my days looked the same.
The internship was online, yet the remote aspect was not a challenge for this project. I worked mostly by myself, going through databases and doing calculations on the software. I also spent a great deal of time consulting journals and discussing with experts who advised me whenever I was stuck. All communication with my colleagues took place on Microsoft Teams, where we had our channel to share files and information and where we had weekly meetings as well.
How did the internship help you implement your previous experience and your knowledge gained at CEU?
Having just finished my thesis, I feel the literature review and data collection for this project went smoothly. Nonetheless, I had lots to learn and went through numerous manuals, tutorials, and forums to learn more about the software.
There were several important decisions to be made throughout the assessment, but the tools I gathered during my studies at CEU helped me perform them well. Additionally, I could count on the support of several professors who provided me with guidance or connected me with people from their network.
What did you learn through this internship? How will this internship help you in your career?
It was an exciting process, full of enriching hands-on experiences. Comparisons with available scientific literature allowed me to verify my results and find points of improvement for consistency. It was a complex and time-consuming task requiring a certain level of expertise, allowing me to further develop my research and analytical skills.
I feel this experience has opened a world of possibilities, as LCA becomes more important for enterprises every day. Not only is it increasing in popularity due to the environmental concerns of the companies, but policies are starting to demand LCA’s be performed. LCA are likely to become part of the norm.
I’m glad I had this opportunity. Having contacted professors in different universities during this internship, I’m now part of several forums where we discuss our thoughts and I can learn much more because I honestly feel I have just started this journey and plan to continue developing these skills. Recently, I was asked about this experience in an interview and I discussed the decision-making process for determining what data to use and how I obtained it. I’m sure I will be able to use this knowledge in my future career.
What is your advice to current students who are thinking of doing an internship?
Go for it, seize the opportunity and learn as much as you can!
An internship is a great way of gaining professional experience, immersing yourself directly in a subject of your interest, and learning in a practical way. It will give you a different perspective and provide you with insights into how that organization or company works, and with all these tools you will be able to start building your career.