Anjali Balakrishna, a Master of Environmental Management student, spent the summer at Microsoft as a program manager intern working on projects related to renewable energy and environmental justice.
Each year, Nicholas School of the Environment students complete internships with organizations around the world. These internships provide valuable opportunities to gain career-related experience and build a professional network.
Duke Environment recently caught up with Anjali to learn more about her experience.
What are you doing at your internship and how are you using the skills you've learned at the Nicholas School?
"This summer, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to join Microsoft’s Renewable Energy team to play a part in helping the company achieve its goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030. The Renewable Energy team here is responsible for procuring Renewable Energy through Power Purchase Agreements, Attribute Purchase Agreements, and other structures to match 100% of the company’s energy consumption with clean energy by 2025. We are one of the leading purchasers of renewable energy in the world and have been responsible for putting several gigawatts of new renewable capacity onto electricity grids around the world.
The team I’m on is also exploring innovative contract structures to integrate environmental justice into our procurements, from intentionally supporting diversity in the supply chain to creating new sources of funding to support community resilience efforts led by frontline organizations.
I have spent my summer working on two projects – one to develop an Environmental Justice proposal for one of our major hubs in the U.S, and the second to design a procurement strategy for how the Renewable Energy buys to meet our “Scope 3” target (specifically the emissions created by electricity use from Xbox and Surface products).
This has been an incredible learning experience, but I would have been totally lost this summer were it not for the training I’ve gotten at the Nicholas School. On the Environmental Justice front, Sherri White-Williamson’s course prepared me with the language and context to represent EJ interests within the company responsibly. On the Energy front, every class I’ve taken in the Energy and Environment concentration – but specifically Energy Technology and Power Markets – has set me up with the context and knowledge to be able to engage in the conversations and add value at work."
How did the Nicholas School help you during your internship search?
"I had a helpful counseling conversation with Allison Besch early in the internship search process that allowed me to hone in on what I was looking for from the experience. I also got a lot of help and coaching from Stacy Peterson at the Energy Initiative, who offered invaluable support as I was planning for my summer."
How will this experience help you in your career?
"Working at Microsoft has been an inspiring experience that put into perspective the different platforms available to make meaningful change. Prior to the Nic School, I spend almost a decade working at non-profit and social enterprises ranging from 5 to 150 employees. The scale that Microsoft operates on – and its ability to make meaningful impact in the areas it chooses to – helped me see a pathway for my career that I hadn’t considered before. This was my first practical experience working on climate, energy, and sustainability issues, and wherever my career takes me after this, both the work I got to do and the Microsoft reputation will be assets I am deeply grateful for."