Written by Michael Seaman, an SCA-ARAMARK environmental intern at Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey, California.
Michael assisted with Environmental Management System certification, improving Asilomar’s sustainable food and beverage program, and strengthening waste diversion efforts. At the end of his internship, he was hired as an Environmental and Purchasing Manager with ARAMARK at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
When I learned of an environmental internship position within ARAMARK, I jumped at the opportunity. For many years, I have felt compelled to find solutions to environmental challenges I’ve witnessed as I’ve travelled throughout the world. Through my internship with ARAMARK, I found myself being part of the solution on a much larger scale than I had ever imagined: helping to advance environmental stewardship while working for a multi-billion dollar corporation.
I grew up in New Jersey, where recycling newspapers and riding my bike was the extent of my youthful environmental stewardship eﬀorts. As a young adult, I started to understand how little environmental conservation was actually practiced on a global scale, and in my travels to Central and South America, I saw environmental degradation ranging from pollution of waterways to widespread litter.
After a few years of working and travelling in some of the Earth’s most beautiful places, I chose to return to graduate school in California, a state with significant environmental progress. For me it was the ideal place to pursue a graduate degree in International Environmental Policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. It also provided me with a great opportunity to study local companies that are at the forefront of environmental stewardship.
Though it was a different career path than I had anticipated for myself, I found the ARAMARK Environmental Internship Program to be a unique opportunity. The internship offered me a chance to support environmental stewardship initiatives in key operational roles with an international company, provided me with a glimpse of what an enormous food and facility service operation actually entails, and gave me a hefty dose of reality along with it.
As I pursued my goal of advancing environmental acumen during my internship, I learned several important lessons, especially about communicating to the wide variety of audiences I would interact with on a daily basis. I was working with everyone from college students to football fans to employees — some who spoke only Spanish. To educate each audience to do the same thing — place recyclable items in the right container for example — I needed to communicate that what they were about to throw away had value as a recyclable material. I learned that it takes patience and creativity to communicate well with diverse audiences and that each individual needs to know the beneﬁt of what you’re asking them to do. And I even got to put my Spanish-speaking skills to good use.
The knowledge I gained in learning how to communicate with employees and guests, along with an understanding of ARAMARK’s sustainability initiatives, particularly in successfully integrating environmental solutions within a large operation, put me in a great position to secure a job with ARAMARK at the Monterey Bay Aquarium when the position of Environmental and Purchasing Manager became available.
I went back to graduate school to learn to effect large social change; to help educate people to care for the Earth and our environment. If I never expected it to be this hard, I was in denial or maybe just naive. My internship with ARAMARK, and my current role as an Environmental and Purchasing Manager with ARAMARK at Monterey Bay Aquarium, has shown me just how large the challenges that I’ve chosen to face really are, and while it seems overwhelming at times, I am learning to break off small pieces to work on each on a more manageable scale.
SCA’s partnership with ARAMARK for the Environmental Internship Program is designed to meet a growing need for employees who have a practical understanding of environmental initiatives plus fundamental business knowledge. Interns are hired for a period of 6 to 9 months to work at one ARAMARK client location where they focus on specific environmental initiatives while finding the right balance between fiscal responsibility and models of operational excellence. To learn more about the 2012 positions, visit the Aramark Internship page.