By Brandon Gertz, MEM ‘21
Nicholas School Communications Student Assistant

Durham, N.C. —Signs of the changing seasons are all around at the Nicholas School of the Environment. Leaves are falling, cool weather is blanketing the campus, and students are starting to think about summer internships. This year, though, has brought something new: the Nicholas School’s first ever Internship Week.

Internships have long been an integral part of the Nicholas School experience. Between their first and second years of study, many Master of Environmental Management (MEM) students conduct internships to explore options for their future careers. But this time around, the Nicholas School’s Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) wanted to step up its game in getting students ready for summer.

“We have been listening to both student and employer feedback about the importance of starting the internship search before the spring semester begins,” said Melissa Hunter, assistant director of the CPDC.

“We hope this week of programming will help students feel confident they can begin the internship search process over winter break, and also help employers make connections with candidates,” Hunter said.

The week-long events got started Monday with an introduction to the Stanback Fellowship Program, which matches students with environmental nonprofits for paid, project-based internships. Last year, 179 internships were offered through the program. 

Another highlight of the week occurred on Thursday, when students met with more than 25 environment-focused employers at the Nicholas School’s Exploring Career Options (Nic ECO) event. Organizations in attendance ranged from nonprofits such the Sierra Club to the engineering company AECOM.

“I enjoyed exploring the diversity of employment opportunities at Nic ECO, talking with representatives from federal and state government, local and national nonprofits, and consulting companies,” said Rachel Landman, a first-year MEM student.

“It was encouraging to hear how excited employers were about my career interests and working together to develop summer positions that are beneficial for their organization as well as my professional growth,” Landman said.

Nicholas School Internship Week

Students and employers mingle at Thursday’s Nic ECO event. Photo credit: Brandon Gertz

The week’s events wrapped up on Friday when panels of second-year students offered insights into their own summer internships with consulting organizations, nonprofits and government agencies.

Internship Week may be over, but Hunter emphasized that CPDC is always available to help. Students interested in sprucing up their application materials and interview skills before internship due dates arrive should email the CPDC at to schedule an appointment.