Emily Ferrando

What year are you and what do you study?

Freshmen, Environmental Engineering

Who is/was your employer?

Grupo Fenix
Sabana Grande, Nicaragua

How did you learn about your internship?

I found this internship through a placement agencies called Global Nomadic. The internship posting itself was on CareerBuzz.

What was the application process like?

There was an online application in which I sent in my resume and also answered a few questions on my experience with Spanish, my schooling and any past work experiences. After that, I was contacted via email and had a phone interview that lasted about a half hour.

What were your major tasks or projects at this internship?

I had two main projects while I was there and for each I was partnered with another intern. One of the projects was redesigning and rebuilding a solar powered water distiller. This involved a good amount of research and testing materials as well as hands on building and use of power tools. I had not had much experience with this prior to the internship so it was a lot of fast learning, but I had help and guidance from my bosses.

My other project was building an educational nature trail and creating a handbook with facts about the different plants along it. This involved some physical labor but also a lot of time talking with a man from the community that had a lot of knowledge of the different plants and their many uses. Interns are also encouraged to help other interns' projects and I helped to build a composting latrine, solar panels as well as solar ovens.

Do you have any recommendations for Georgia Tech students looking to intern in the same company or country?

This is an experience that is very different than other internships. You are living in the community and the way of life is quite different. Many homes that interns stay in do not have running water and the houses themselves are quite different. A positive attitude and ability to adapt are necessary since the living conditions are so different. Everyone living in the community is very nice and welcoming which makes adjusting easier, but an awareness of the differences is always good (specifically with respect to water usage and things that we take for granted here in the US). Spanish skills are very useful as many of the people you will be living and working with have limited English, however a high level is not necessarily needed as the people are used to working with people who do not have very much Spanish experience.

Where did you live? Did you find accomodations independently or with your company's help?

Each intern is placed with a host family that has ties to the organization. Interns are not in charge of the placement themselves but are told information about their family prior to arriving. Breakfast and dinner are eaten with the family every day, on weekdays lunch is eaten with other interns but on weekends you once again eat with your family. You will get your own room with a lock but share the latrine with your family.

How has this internship influenced your career path?

This internship really helped give me an up close view of what working with a NGO is like. It helped to teach me more about life in a very different place is like and what is valued there. As I have always been interested in protecting the environment, it showed me ways in which countries and communities with less western lifestyles are able to gain large amounts from green technology. It also taught me the importance of community involvement and support in making a positive impact and adjusting lifestyles to lead more sustainable lives. It made me more interested in working in development and the ways in which knowledge sharing is able to create large leaps in standards of living and protect the environment at the same time.

If paid, did the company you worked for pay you enough to live off of your salary or stipend, or did you have to supplement your income with personal funds?

This internship actually requires payment, however, if you are in the CEE department all costs (travel, program and lodging) can be covered through the Mundy Fund.