The next generation of zero waste leaders: TRUE's summer 2021 interns

Published on: 
29 Sep 2021
Susie Westrup, TRUE Director of Client Services, and Jonathan Rowe, TRUE Intern


Education is one of the most effective pathways toward a circular economy. Through education, new generations of sustainability professionals can prepare to build a more sustainable, zero waste future, and it’s a core tenant of the TRUE certification program.

While the most well-known educational aspect of TRUE is the TRUE Advisor certificate which trains professionals on the TRUE rating system to implement in their own organizations, we are also particularly proud of the TRUE Intern program. This summer, we benefitted from the hard work our third class of interns, Emily O’Hara, Lauren Hibbert, and Jonathan Rowe. While working remotely, these interns worked diligently with TRUE Directors on regional projects.  They join a growing community of former TRUE interns promoting zero waste practices in higher education and new jobs.  

 As young professionals beginning their careers in sustainability, the TRUE Interns are ready to meet the increasing workforce demand for sustainability and ESG competence. Whether it be sharing information about TRUE with new customers or completing market research to produce educational content, as TRUE interns, they gained the skills needed to contribute to a more sustainable future.

 “The knowledge I've gained about zero waste and green building while studying for the TRUE Advisor and LEED Green Associate will be crucial for the rest of my career,” explained Emily O’Hara, who will continue her education by pursuing a Masters in Climate and Policy from Columbia University’s New Climate school. “I am more prepared than ever to enter the industry because I have these professional certifications, which will help me stand out against other applicants.”

As the cycle of intern into working professional continues, it is important to understand personal motivations into sustainability. By understanding why you are passionate about this field and having a vision for the future, you can achieve all that you set out to do.

“Sustainability and the climate crisis are the biggest challenge humanity has faced yet. It is incredibly exciting to be able to help solve this problem with my career and it keeps me motivated every day,” noted Jonathan Rowe, who is beginning his career performing sustainability audit services while also starting a Master's Degree in Sustainability Management.  “My time at TRUE helped me understand and prepare for this future career.”

The TRUE team is always looking for young leaders who are passionate about zero waste and developing a circular economy. In fact, Lauren Hibbert plans to continue interning with the TRUE team while also continuing her studies at the University of California Berkeley. By joining this team, students join a growing group of TRUE intern alumni who are excited to share their knowledge. Much can be learned from the experience from those who came before. Take it from Mikaela Jewell, a former intern who now works as a TRUE Certification Associate:

“For any prospective TRUE or USGBC Intern, I would encourage them to take the initiative to learn more and grow and start building connections. My experience with the TRUE team was that everyone is incredibly supportive and open to hearing any and all ideas.”

As our interns enter the workforce as sustainability professionals, the TRUE team is grateful for their hard work and passion for our program. With their support, the zero waste movement will continue to grow and our future is brighter.