Student Spotlight: How the Sustainable Development Program Helped Further My Career

summer interns

Harrison Gerson (left) and Daniel Leal de Moraes Santana

Q&A with Harrison Gerson

This past summer, Harrison Gerson, a junior in the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development, traveled to three countries to work and learn more about global sustainability, specifically in the academia and tourist industries.

Tell us about your recent internship.

This past June, I visited Columbia Global Centers in Paris to conduct a sustainable study at Reid Hall. I analyzed the research data and recommended actions for the center, including better recycling-bin labeling, incorporating sustainability into student orientations and enhancing circular reuse practices. I next visited Venice for a course entitled “A Sustainable Serenissima: Water and the Future of Venice,” via the Columbia Global Collaboratory program and the University of Warwick. This course exposed me to the challenges faced by a city heavily reliant on tourism and dealing with environmental issues.

Then in July, I traveled to Santiago, Chile, to collaborate with FEDETUR (la Federación de Empresas de Turismo de Chile) on sustainable tourism initiatives. My work involved developing a sustainability guide for tourism businesses to measure and reduce their carbon footprints, become environmental ambassadors and navigate the landscape of offsets, circularity, and renewable energy. I also had the privilege of attending the swearing-in ceremony for the committee of the Escazú Agreement at the headquarters of CEPAL (the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) of the United Nations. This groundbreaking agreement is the first intergovernmental climate agreement in the region, and participating as an observer fills me with hope for climate action in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Are there any particular skills or knowledge you drew on from the sustainable development program for your internship?

The Challenges of Sustainable Development course taught me about sustainability policy. The Sustainability Management coursework prepared me for the professional sustainability environment and how to communicate my work outside of the environmental world. I also am grateful to the Earth Sciences department, specifically Steve Goldstein and Sidney Hemming, for helping me look at the world differently with a context of global climate history through geology. This new lens made my summer experience even richer.

How did the internship relate to your studies and what do you plan to do after you graduate?

My summer gave me concrete experiences in applying sustainable development frameworks within academic, municipal and tourism worlds. I intend to pursue a sustainability career within the intergovernmental sphere and/or with an emphasis on travel. I see my future taking me where my impact is needed most.


Q&A with Daniel Leal de Moraes Santana

This past summer, Daniel Leal de Moraes Santana, a rising senior in the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development, interned on the ESG team at Pretium, an alternative investment manager firm focused on single-family rental real estate and residential and corporate credit.

Tell us about your internship this past summer.

I had the privilege of interning on the ESG team at Pretium, an alternative investment manager firm focused on single-family rental real estate and residential and corporate credit. My responsibilities ranged from reviewing and summarizing trending topics on affordable housing; developing the reporting for our CFA Institute Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Code inaugural submission; researching political trends on ESG; and analyzing social metrics in Pretium’s real estate investments. The most enjoyable aspect of my internship was connecting with remarkable professionals in the ESG sector.

How does that work relate to sustainable development?

The ESG team at Pretium focuses on promoting a sustainable business model that generates social and environmental impact. By supporting different investment teams, my projects contribute to building scalable businesses that create social and environmental value. Through better partnerships with all levels of government, more inclusive hiring and promotion practices, and a focus on social and environmental risks, Pretium’s approach to ESG is in tangible relation to sustainable development.

What skills are you using from the sustainable development program for your internship?

Throughout this summer, I drew upon the knowledge gained from my Sustainability Management course, which cultivated an entrepreneurial approach to sustainability initiatives. The Challenges of Sustainable Development course also equipped me to navigate and better understand my project related to ESG commitments in the financial industry. Overall, the Sustainable Development program has taught me essential market concepts and terms related to sustainability, which were crucial for me to thrive during my summer internship.

How does the internship relate to your studies and what do you plan to do post-graduation?

With a major in sustainable development and a concentration in business management, I’ve improved my practical skill set in the ESG financial environment. My internship at Pretium Partners solidifies my commitment to continuing my career in ESG investing post-graduation.


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