In our “Where Are They Now?” series, current student interns interview former interns about their experience at the Office of Sustainability, and in particular how that experience has helped them since graduation. In the following entry, Nina Delgadillo relates her conversation with Will Awve.
Since graduating from UW–Madison in May of 2021, Will Awve has delved into the world of corporate sustainability. Will served as an Office of Sustainability (OS) intern starting in March of 2020 up until his graduation, and although most of his time as an intern was spent virtually, he still gained valuable knowledge that he has been able to apply to his professional life.
As a part of the Green Athletics team, Will was a part of a Green Fund project in collaboration with SALS (Student-Athlete Leaders for Sustainability), which introduced reusable OZZI box containers into the student-athlete dining halls at both Camp Randall and the Kohl Center. Will was also a part of the Green Labs team, which certifies different labs on campus based on sustainable and environmentally-friendly criteria. Finally, although this was not an official team, Will participated in the Campus Waste Mapping Initiative, where he worked with a third party company known as PLAN (Post Landfill Action Network) and conducted interviews with various stakeholders around campus who dealt with waste management to get a better sense about the current infrastructure in place. He then sent this information to PLAN so that they could assess current waste management practices at UW-Madison and give advice for areas of improvement.
In his current role as an Energy Analyst with Cadmus, Will must understand the needs of various clients, whether that be from big companies or smaller projects, and compile this information and any necessary data into a report. Cadmus is an international environmental consulting firm that works with various sectors including energy, climate, and government. Will is just one of many employees who help to write reports for companies that want to improve their sustainability and overall environmental impact.
Even before the Office of Sustainability internship, Will says he always saw himself becoming a sustainability consultant in one form or another. However, Will did not find the right fit right away. Shortly after graduation, Will became an intern for the company SunPeak, which works on solar panel installations and consultations. This internship ended up turning into a full-time position where Will helped to advance the solar panel sales of the company. But Will found himself wanting to work in a more diverse field of environmental consulting instead of just focusing on solar energy. With his current position at Cadmus, he can do just that.
While he was an intern, Will said, he gained many valuable skills that he uses every day in his job. One of the most important is his ability to communicate effectively with people and stakeholders outside of the office. He stated that these types of interactions occur daily in almost every job, including his own, and that being a part of the OS made it feel more natural and professional. Not only did Will gain valuable job skills as an intern, but he was able to learn more about what aspects of sustainability interested him the most. Will’s advice for those who are looking for a career in sustainability is to hone in on what specific parts of sustainability interest you because there are so many established markets that exist for these various fields. Once you find this interest, Will advises you to find people at your university who are doing research in these fields because through these connections you can find a job that suits you best. Although no longer a part of the OS, he will always use the skills he learned as an intern no matter what field he goes into.