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School of Sustainability News Sustainability Connect Successes

July 9, 2018

During a 4 month internship, Ethan McCloskey, a Bachelor’s of Science student at the School of Sustainability, used his drive and work ethic to participate in the Stardust Affordable Housing Internship with the City of Phoenix. The department was so impressed with his work that now, after graduation, he is employed with his former supervisor expanding on the projects he worked on as an undergrad.

During this time McCloskey and fellow interns worked on a variety of projects under Housing Program Manager Assistant and ASU alum Bailey Spears. Throughout the course of the internship the interns worked with a few different employees of the city, including Housing Program Manager Mindy Davis, who is now McCloskey’s supervisor.

The goals of the internship were to manage and oversee the implementation and success of the GR:D bike share for all program grant for the Edison-Eastlake housing community. Last year, the City of Phoenix announced the expansion as a way to make Phoenix a more sustainable, bike-friendly community and to provide more transportation options in the valley. McCloskey’s work also included researching and compiling information for the LEED ND certification within choice neighborhoods. LEED ND stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a system for project leaders in the United States to create benchmarks for growth and progress and to further urban design that is sustainable or green in its forefront.

McCloskey candidly shared the challenges he faced during his internship saying his limited experience in workplace culture was something he had to overcome. He remarked that because his project was one of many that his supervisors were handling, he had to make a few, quick, gut-feeling decisions with little to go on and that made him nervous. However, he felt supported in his endeavors, “I would say that we made a great team and really got into the work that we were doing with regards to the GR:D bike project. The support from my supervisors influenced me to give my 100% to the project and whenever I had questions or needed direction, they were always there to help out.”

The outcome of the internship was an increase in the number of GR:D bike memberships, and they also offered him a position with the City of Phoenix to continue his work.

McCloskey was proud of the work he did during the internship and was particularly complimentary to Caroline Savalle, who taught the corresponding course to the internship. “[Savalle] was always prompt in her responses to my emails, and the class that went along with the internship really helped me develop my professional skills and presentations. It helped me start to build a career and learn how to network effectively in the professional business world.”

According to McCloskey, the communities that were involved with the project were satisfied with the work that was done and were very free in their praise when their projects were completed.

When asked about some of his favorite moments as an intern he said, “An interesting and career building experience was getting to sit in on the HUD (Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development) visit, which included the Mayor of Phoenix. I got to meet several members of the HUD team and the Mayor of Phoenix, which was a great networking opportunity and helped me formulate a plan and vision for where I wanted my career to take me and what I aspire to be, professionally.”

There were many projects that McCloskey admits he had no prior knowledge of or experience with. He made up for the lack of experience by working his hardest on everything that was placed in his lap. He credits this work ethic for being able to make up for the gap.

“One lesson I learned while completing this internship is to come to work everyday and give 100%. Sometimes as an intern, you won’t have the experience, network, or contacts, that full time employees with careers will have. Never be daunted by this. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone, take on a project you aren’t entirely sure how to do, and give your all everyday. Hard work is difficult to overlook from a management point of view. If you are willing to give your manager your best effort, everyday, this can lead to a fruitful career.”

McCloskey has some advice for future interns: “I would advise the student[s] to keep an open mind. In my experience, it is rare that the internship is exactly what you were expecting when going into it. Just work hard, keep an eye out for full time positions that will be opening, and most of all, do not be scared to get your name out there so that people know that you want a full time position after the internship has concluded. You have to be willing to go out and get it!”

McCloskey added that there is still much to do to add on or to support his projects, “Students could build upon my internship by assisting us with the GR:D project as the grant goals will take a minimum of two years to complete. We can always use the help and there is an abundance of projects with the City of Phoenix Housing Department that can use dedicated and hardworking interns!”

Check out upcoming internship opportunities on Sustainability Connect.