Hard Work, Tonawanda Coke: A Snap Shot of Mariel’s Internship
As a student thinking about pursuing a career in environmental justice, interning at the Clean Air Coalition has been an amazing
opportunity, and one that I am so thankful I was able to experience before graduating from Canisius College. For myself, at least, and for I’m sure many other interested students, working for a non-profit organization provides an attractive opportunity to obtain a career and a job working for a cause they strongly believe in. While I have been seriously considering non-profit work for some time, I had never worked extensively with or for a non-profit and had no idea what that exactly entailed. Therefore, working for
the Clean Air Coalition has been an invaluable opportunity to do just that.
Working for the Clean Air Coalition has taught me many things, namely that working for a non-profit, or working for any cause is HARD and takes a ton of work. Not that my internship was particularly stressful but just watching Erin, Rebecca, and Natasha run around the office and listening to the phone ring off the hook wa sproof enough that if you’re looking for a cushy or nice and easy job, don’t work for a non-profit. That’s not deterring me from still pursuing a career in a non-profit, however, as I know that the payoff when you are finally able to affect positive change makes up for all of the work a thousand times over.
Working for a non-profit also takes tireless energy and a positive attitude to be able to interact with all of the people whose minds you are trying to change or who would like to get involved with your cause. It takes incredible patience, especially when dealing with anything related to governmental operations. Justice by its nature is slow-moving and takes baby steps to get anywhere, and environmental justice is no exception. Appreciating the small victories is the only way that one can stay sane and not completely lose hope while working for a non-profit.
I’ve also learned that people are generally interested and excited to hear about the work that one does in a non-profit, especially one that works for the environment, since its such a popular and hot-button issue. This past weekend, for example, I had the opportunity to speak with the judge who is currently presiding over the Tonawanda Coke case; a monumental case in the history of environmental justice and one that hopefully will end up in favor of the environment and people of Tonawanda! I had a great conversation with him and learned that he considers the case to be of the utmost importance. It definitely makes working for the Clean Air Coalition more rewarding, as it provided me with hope that since so many people do care, we really can change the way people view and treat the environment.
While I unfortunately will not be in Buffalo past May to continue my internship with the Clean Air Coalition, I have learned so much in the past few months and will continue to do so until my departure. This is an amazing organization and I’m so happy to play a small role in it!
Mariel Klein, Canisus College
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