Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Major: Environmental Studies
I spent my summer (2012) working at the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). I rotated among different departments for the first 2 weeks or so. During this time, I shadowed employees to get a feel of where my interests lie. I ended up committing to the legal department because they were mostly involved with policy work, setting up conferences and dealing with many of the international NGOs that partner up with the EPA.
This internship, I believe, was the best way to be introduced to the field of environmental governance and policy. Together with my ever-growing passion for Ethiopia, my home country, I was able to get an enriching experience from my two months at the EPA. If I had to highlight the best part of the internship it would be the connections I made . I was fortunate enough to be actively involved in two major conferences: the Loss and Damage due to adverse effect of climate change conference and the Green Advocacy Week conference. Not only did I realize that I knew the concepts and ideas that were being discussed at these events, but I found the courage to speak during brainstorming sessions and represent the EPA. It was also a great opportunity to meet representatives from a range of organizations and countries. During coffee breaks I got the chance to meet people and ask them questions about their jobs and get their advice on my future plans. The fact I was in a familiar setting, that I knew Amharic (the national language) and I was accustomed to the Ethiopian culture, I felt I was in a safe environment and I was not afraid to practice my networking skills. I had always been shy to express my opinions and approach people but through this experience, I became confident and no longer felt incompetent. This experience would not have been amazing without my colleagues, in particular the employees that worked in the legal department. They made me feel welcome and continuously helped me to make my experience there as enriching and interesting as possible. They encouraged me to try new things and not be afraid to fail. All in all they were and continue to be inspirational mentors and are now one of my good friends.