3 Things I Learned as a Greenpeace Intern

by Nathalie Arfvidson

July 17, 2017

With an unstable and unpredictable government creating an environmental crisis in the United States, I took on the challenge of fighting for social and environmental justice. Here’s what I learned in six months as an intern with Greenpeace USA's online team.

Nathalie Arfvidson, Greenpeace USA

Online campaigning intern Nathalie Arfivdson in the Greenpeace office in San Francisco.

I remember the exact moment when I got my acceptance email from Greenpeace. I had applied for the online campaigning internship straight out of college, having just finished up a degree in marine biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Knowing Greenpeace and knowing their work to protect oceans and forests, stop global warming, and support renewable energy, I knew this was a chance to learn about new ways to educate people about some of the issues I cared about most.

And then, right after I had accepted the internship, Greenpeace did something else that made me even more excited. On January 25, 2017 —  just days after Trump’s inauguration — seven Greenpeace activists dropped a RESIST banner behind the White House. From that moment right up to my last day with the team, I’ve been motivated to keep pushing for social and environmental justice, and I’ve never stopped learning.

For anyone considering an internship at Greenpeace, here’s some of what you can expect to take away.

1. Greenpeace is nothing without our supporters — and we spend a lot of time talking to you.

Our supporters (that’s you, reader!) are the true core of Greenpeace, which is why much of my internship was spent listening, answering questions, and getting to know the folks that make Greenpeace’s work possible. On the online team, we answer questions and comments on social media, read every text and email we receive, and respond to as much as possible.

Nathalie Arfvidson, Greenpeace USA

Sitting at my desk in San Francisco, where I answered hundreds of questions and comments from Greenpeace supporters about everything from how to phase out single-use plastic bags to our position on EPA budget cuts.

At first, I was intimidated by just how much interaction there is — I was nervous about saying the wrong thing! But after spending hours answering questions that would come in via our text list and on social media, I felt an even stronger connection to the Greenpeace community. Not only that, but I really appreciated some of the conversations I had. Greenpeacers work hard, and it made my day getting to hear from supportive and caring people who appreciate what we do.  

2. Graphic design and social media go hand-in-hand, and Greenpeace cares about both.  

Designing graphics for social media was how I spent a lot of my time at Greenpeace, and where I got to take on the most responsibility. Together with our social media managers, I started designing Instagram #TBT series (Throwback Thursday) to highlight cool, inspiring moments from Greenpeace’s past that we post every week. Coming in, I didn’t have much experience with graphic design, but Greenpeace’s graphic designers were an immense help and definitely inspired and improved my work.

(See what I mean? I made that!)

I also learned about how Greenpeace analyzes social media statistics to determine what content is most interesting to supporters, and started producing weekly reports on all of our social media channels.

3. No two days — or two Greenpeace campaigns — are the same.

The awesome thing about working for Greenpeace is that every day brings new opportunities. My supervisor was very supportive of me taking on different projects, which gave me a unique perspective on all of the campaigns Greenpeace has going on at once.

I worked on our canned tuna sustainability ranking and shopping guide, which we released in Spanish for the first time this year. I helped collect voice recordings from Greenpeace supporters across several countries as part of our boreal forest campaign, which ultimately ended up in really cool video. And working with the online team, every day I saw which campaigns our supporters were talking about most — from climate change, to the resistance movement, and beyond.

Environmental Justice Rally in San Francisco

March through downtown San Francisco following a rally outside the regional EPA office led by local grassroots organizations.

I also got to go to a couple of awesome rallies here in San Francisco (and take awesome photos like the one you see above). This internship was pretty much the whole package! Today, I’m leaving Greenpeace knowing that I took every opportunity possible, and I hope future interns will do the same.

Nathalie Arfvidson

By Nathalie Arfvidson

Nathalie Arfvidson is the Online Campaigning Intern for Greenpeace USA based in San Francisco. She studied Aquatic Biology and she is interested in plastic pollution, sustainability, and renewable energy.

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