For Gavriela Reiter (SP2’18), this summer in DC proved to be one she won’t soon forget. As the Climate and Energy Intern at the Heinrich Boell Foundation of North America, Gavriela’s first day coincided with the United States backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement. “We had people in the office who were involved in the creation of the Agreement, and having their perspectives while this was going on was fascinating.” Throughout her internship, Gavriela has been able to focus on a wide array of climate research, while taking advantage of many learning opportunities that a think tank provides. We discussed that and more in her profile.
What areas of public policy interest you?
As the climate and energy intern at Heinrich Boell this summer, I’m most interested in environmental policy, local just transition policy, and international climate change advocacy.
What is the first thing you do when you get to the office every morning?
We have three intern computers that we rotate through, with two at the front desk that also answer phones and other reception duties, so we figure out who sits where based on who wants a quieter day and who wants to be answering the phone. In the morning I check in with my supervisor to see what she needs done and what her day is looking like. The interns have a lot of free range to explore topics that they want to pursue, so I’m currently working on a blog post, and am making of a list of other topics I want to write about over the summer. It’s great to have that support.
What does a typical day in DC look like for you?
I feel like there’s really no typical day in DC. I have found that there’s not much of a routine to this city because everything is always happening and moving so quickly. But for me, I wake up, make my lunch, and bike to work downtown (about four blocks from the White House). I work in a very small office of just eight people (and three interns), and I’m one of two non-German speakers in the office, so a lot of language is in the air. Our foundation is an international network, with sixty offices in thirty countries, so it doesn’t feel small because of the contact with and support from the other offices. I have lunch somewhere in the middle of the day, usually going out to the park to eat. After work, I either go for a run, meet up with friends, go to a museum, or go to an event. There are so many events happening, especially within the think tank network. There are just so many opportunities to learn. Then I make dinner, read, and head to bed.
Have there been any surprises regarding living and working as an intern in DC?
The weather. I knew it was going to be hot, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this. I worked last summer in Tel Aviv, so I thought I could handle DC. In Tel Aviv, though, you’re always within twenty minutes of the beach, so no matter how hot you are, there’s an escape route. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
Name one object that you brought with you to DC that reflects your personality.
I didn’t bring this with me to DC, but the first week I was here, my role model, Naomi Klein, spoke at a book launch, and I got a signed copy of her new book (No Is Not Enough), and I’ve had it with me everywhere I’ve gone since. Also my reusable travel silverware kit that I bought on the street in Vietnam.
In 30 years, what will you remember about living and working in DC?
There are a lot of things I’ll remember about my first summer in DC, especially with this presidency, but I think the thing that I will take with me is how vision focused this organization is. Everyone in this office is really working towards things that they believe in. It’s not just a job; they’re putting energy into the world that they want to see. And since the foundation is funded by German state funds, this is a totally different non-profit than any I’ve worked for in the past, because, no matter what, fundraising is always such a large question in nonprofit organizations. It’s been a really interesting experience to put all my effort into the issues at hand.