Activating behavior change for proper waste disposal in WA

Environmental Studies majors take part in a unique 3-quarter Capstone experience combining professional development, a built-in internship (locally or abroad) and a public presentation tying in their academic research with their practical on-the-job work. Students gain valuable hands-on experience exploring potential career paths and they build communications, research and analytic skills that serve them well beyond their time at college. 

Read more about what the student experience is within our Capstone, in this third post in our Student Capstone Q&A Series.

Brooke Stroosma

Capstone Internship focus: Accurate Waste Disposal
Capstone organization: Waste Management
UW faculty mentor: Yen-Chu Weng

Why did you choose this internship?

I chose to do my capstone internship with Waste Management’s Recycle Corps internship program because this was an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. Before this internship I did not know much about the waste industry besides me putting my recycling and garbage at the curb and someone picking it up every week. I also chose this internship because I wanted to get experience working for a private company in my field and learn how to educate the public on a broad scale.

What environmental challenges are you addressing? Why is it important?

One challenge that I addressed through my internship was lack of access and knowledge to recycling and composting. It is important to provide correct access and knowledge to communities about recycling and composting so that we are able to decrease the amount of materials that end up in landfills and then strive to decrease our consumption entirely.

Brooke Stroosma fielding questions about recycling at a Waste Management info fair.
Brooke Stroosma fielding questions about recycling at a Waste Management outreach event.

What are the goals of this internship and what are your expected deliverables?

A goal that I had going into my internship was to make connections and contacts with everyone I met during the summer. I was able to do this and find direction in what I want to do after I graduate. My deliverable for my host organization was to draft an outreach report for one of the communities I worked with this summer.

What does a day in the life of your internship look like?

Every day is different at my internship. There are always new projects that are happening. I worked events and did outreach at multifamily properties and businesses. My favorite day during my internship was getting to do door-to-door outreach at multifamily properties and individually have conversations with the residents about how they can decrease their waste and improve their recycling and composting behaviors.

What skills have you learned throughout this internship?

A few skills that I learned through my internship include; professional outreach and education tools, data analysis, and writing a comprehensive report.

What is the most memorable moment of this internship so far?

The most memorable part of my internship has been able to see a spark in someone’s eye when they want to do what is best for our environment and they want to take the knowledge and information that I provided for them and use it to be more environmentally friendly.

What are your career aspirations once you graduate?

After I graduate I want to continue with education and outreach on environmental topics. It might be in the waste industry or it might not! I am very open for what comes next!