SLS Summer Internship: A Transformative Experience

February 11, 2019

Interested in a summer internship experience that offers the opportunity to gain real-world experience in sustainability and community engagement, while supporting solutions for sustainable communities?  Apply for the SLS 2019 Summer Internship Program!  Applications are now open.  Read about the experience of one of our 2018 interns, working with SLS partner Transformation Alliance.

I can say without a doubt that my two-and-a-half months working with Odetta for the TransFormation Alliance last summer was (pun intended) transformative. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Michael Bryan II, and I served as TFA's Programs Intern; I am a third-year, International Affairs major from Georgia Tech with a minor in pre-law, and a concentration in urban development—try saying that three times fast. From Stone Mountain (yes, the home of Donald Glover), I have been in the Metro Atlanta area all my life, yet working for TFA has—for the first time—allowed me to see a side of the city I had never know. I grew up in the suburbs, never faced inequities, and could hop in the car and get to wherever I needed to be—not everyone is so fortunate. I spent a lot of time reading reports, articles, and white papers to better inform myself of the inequities the communities in Atlanta have faced over the years and by the second week of my internship, I realized just how sobering the battle for equity is, and has been. 
 
Having an opportunity to work in this space however, allowed me to truly realize my interests and what I want to focus on in my career. With such a mash-up for my major, I always get the question of what I actually plan to do post-graduation, and for a time I was asking myself the same question. I started school in engineering before I realized that it wasn't the field for me; working in Tech's Office of Sustainability, I began to find my passion for working with people on multi-faceted issues (sustainability ultimately is a unison of social, economic, and environmental factors). Using a global perspective to look at the Atlanta region, I hope to bring new, out-of--the-box ideas to creating an equitable city.
 
Working my way to that point, I have come a long way, and the people I have met are the most inspiring and life changing people; they dedicate themselves to equity, and work tirelessly to make sure everybody’s voice is heard. As Odetta likes to say, "everyone has a journey to take", and this internship was a significant part of mine. Equity is so important, and TFA works hard to stress this message; we bring people together from many areas, and help build relationships and close gaps--all catalysts to developing equity. I am proud of the work I did, and couldn't have asked to do anything better last summer. I hope to continue this work, and believe me, as soon as I can get Tech to sign off on my degree, you all will see my face a lot more!