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‘Try to connect with as many people as possible during your internship’

Micah DenBraber studied at Leiden University College in The Hague while pursuing an internship at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a self-proclaimed ‘think-and-do-tank’, where he built partnerships with the philanthropic sector, among other things.

Where did you intern?

Micah: ‘I interned at the World Resources Institute (WRI); a global 'think-and-do-tank'. WRI’s aim is to combat climate change, promote the green energy transition, and spur sustainable development through academic policy and grassroots activism. It forms a kind of climate-focused alliance with the likes of Greenpeace and Oxfam Novib. WRI generates activism focussed academic insights, to the benefit of governments, civil society and other actors. Their operation has twelve global offices and has recently grown significantly. For instance, they are now also operating in Brazil, Nigeria, and Indonesia. Their European headquarters is located in The Hague. That's where I did my internship.’ 

Why did you choose to do an internship at WRI?

‘I’ve always been interested in policy. WRI is a major climate NGO, and one of their most important tasks is forming institutional relationships. This gave me the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world, from Colombia to Indonesia; something I was keen to experience and which was very valuable. I was also keen to learn new skills and I got the opportunity to do so during the internship. For instance, I wanted to get involved in development. That department was writing grant applications to climate change and energy foundations who fund initiatives to further the green transition.’ 

Micah DenBraber

You just mentioned that you were keen to learn new skills. What kind of skills are they, for example?

‘For example, an understanding of the variation and diversity of stakeholders in the philanthropic sector. Each of the foundations we worked with have different backgrounds and different focuses. So, part of the difficulty is figuring out how to shape and profile your organisation in order to generate impact. I wanted to engage with that by learning to do research and doing a lot of writing, such as formulating yearly sustainability reports. I see myself working in public relations or strategic communications firms such as FGS Global or Teneo, where one must recognise different organisations’ stakeholders and needs to formulate outward-facing narratives.’ 

Did you know during your internship that you wanted to learn more about this or after your internship?

‘I started the internship intent on philanthropy, but the internship made me consider things from a different perspective. I decided, for instance, not to go into the non-profit direction yet, but to gain a few years of consulting experience in the private sector first. When all’s said and done, the quest for capital drives really all organisations'; so an insider's perspective working within the private sector first will be beneficial.’ 

Was the internship what you expected it to be?

‘Yes, it was great. WRI showed me what a healthy work culture looks like, they took good care of employees and promoted well being, despite many staff often working 12+ hour days. Leadership was very decentralised– Ani Dasgupta, WRI’s director, spent a half day connecting with myself and colleagues while on a work trip through Europe. Little gestures like these demonstrate the commitment of organisational leadership to prioritising staff’s voices. It's important to try to connect with as many people as possible during your internship.’ 

Text: Abdelkarim Megaiz

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