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, Will Awve relates his conversation with Nolan Billstrom.
Nolan Billstrom knew that sustainability would play an important role in his future when he graduated from UW–Madison with degrees in Economics and Environmental Studies in 2019. As an undergraduate, Nolan served as a student intern for the Office of Sustainability (OS) from Fall 2017 to Fall 2018, where he contributed to the development of the Green Office Certification Program. Through the OS internship program, Nolan connected with others and developed friendships around the common goal of creating positive change. Learning how to value the unique perspectives, interests, and needs of all stakeholders, as well as recognizing the interconnected nature of the systems we’re a part of, was an important skill when working with his peers to present sustainability solutions for organizational challenges.
Today, Nolan is a Sales Associate and a B Team Lead for Tribe 9 Foods. Inspired by the young startup company and their commitment to maintaining their status as a Certified B Corporation, Nolan works to develop Tribe 9 Foods’ brand distribution network, which includes major products like Taste Republic, RP’s Pasta and Yumbutter.
Nolan believes that sustainability can be implemented into anything we do, which drove him to establish Tribe 9 Food’s dedicated B Team. He explained, “I suggested Tribe 9 create a dedicated B Team, focused on advancing our sustainability efforts … The formalization of this team has allowed us to create goals and implement projects to advance our B Corp efforts to increase our positive impact.”
Nolan values the opportunity to work on projects for Tribe 9 Foods that result in positive impacts for the employees, community, customers, and the environment. He strongly believes that “healthy, resilient individuals create healthy, resilient companies, which create healthy, resilient communities.”
Nolan’s experiences from the OS internship program resonate well with his current role, providing him with skills and knowledge to tackle organizational challenges through a sustainable lens. Nolan also reflected fondly on the fun experiences with the OS team such as the field trip to the Farley Center, and the end-of-summer potluck to celebrate the team’s work.
When asked about advice for future interns or those searching for careers in sustainability, he reiterated that no matter what job we find ourselves working, sustainability can be implemented into anything we do. Nolan believes sustainability is about being intentional, curious, and caring. If we can successfully bring these qualities into every moment, we will add value to the tasks at hand and build strong connections with the world around us.