Interning at Environment Defense Fund

This summer Colleen Gearns, MBA '19, was an Enviornmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps Fellow. Read on to learn more about her experience as an intern:

Tell me about your summer internship experience. Where did you work and what types of projects did you work on?

This summer I was an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps Fellow working in the sustainability department at Tishman Speyer. Tishman Speyer is one of the leading owners, developers, operators and fund managers of first-class real estate worldwide. My primary project focused on strategizing for the company’s next GRI compliant sustainability report. I assisted the Director of Sustainability in conducting a new materiality assessment and then worked with department heads across the company to move towards additional company disclosures. I also created an in depth menu of options of voluntary initiatives for the company to consider, along with their requirements and estimated costs.
Outside of my reporting project, I helped craft a strategy guide for Tishman Speyer properties interested in earning Fitwel certifications. Health and wellness is a huge emerging trend in sustainability and it was incredible to help the company explore ways to make their properties healthier spaces for tenants and their employees.

What was the most valuable thing you learned at your internship?

The greatest lesson that I learned through my internship was the importance of being able to communicate with employees outside of the sustainability department. While the sustainability field has grown exponentially in recent years and it is easy for those focusing on sustainable business to falsely assume that everyone understands the value of incorporating ESG considerations into business decisions, many people still do not have a clear understanding of what sustainability entails. It is extremely important for those working in sustainability functions to be able to clearly explain what falls under the sustainability umbrella and has the potential to bring additional value to the firm.

Did your summer internship experience change your thoughts about your career trajectory moving forward?

My summer internship at Tishman Speyer confirmed my desire to pursue a career in corporate sustainability. When I came to Stern, I had experience in CSR consulting, working for GRI’s data partner, and as a nonprofit Executive Director. I knew I wanted to continue working in impact, but was looking to transition away from my nonprofit role. My fellowship with EDF enabled me to find the corporate sustainability position that I was looking for, one that aligned with both my interests and skill set. I will be returning to Tishman Speyer as an Associate in Sustainability after graduation.