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Meet our 2020 Summer Interns!

September 15th, 2020 by

New Jersey Future’s internship program is developing the next generation of thinkers in smart growth. We offer graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to assist us with various projects, including research, writing, communications, and administration. We appreciate their wide-ranging contributions! See a list of our previous interns and learn how to apply

Here is what this summer’s interns worked on, in their own words.

Yash Bajaj

Yash Bajaj

The George Washington University

Field of Study: International Affairs, Economics

This summer, I had the pleasure of working with New Jersey Future’s Community Outreach Manager Mo Kinberg and the Jersey Water Works Combined Sewer Outflow Committee. I worked on developing an inventory of the existing water workforce training programs in New Jersey that would prepare residents of communities with combined sewer systems to be eligible for employment in the water workforce sector. I researched local training providers and organizations as well as the future of employment opportunities in the water and wastewater industries. I also attended online meetings and webinars discussing green infrastructure programs, solutions for CSOs, and Long Term Control Plans for municipalities. I wrote blog posts summarizing the information from online events so that stakeholders in the state have an understanding of solutions and strategies that will prevent stormwater runoff and also include community engagement. 

During my internship, I developed a better understanding of the issues related to stormwater management and why it will be important to incorporate green infrastructure solutions into any infrastructure plan. I was also able to improve upon my research, communication, and writing skills. I am thankful for the opportunity and look forward to continue to learn about sustainability and green solutions in New Jersey.

Leah Henk

Leah Henk

University: Bucknell University

Field of Study: Environmental Engineering

Working in the field of policymaking this summer was really interesting! I worked on a few different projects relating to lead in drinking water. I did a lot of research on the disclosure of lead pipes in rental units in other states. This information was then presented to the Jersey Water Works Lead in Drinking Water Task Force. This involved networking in the policymaking field. I also worked alongside New Jersey Future Policy Analyst Kimberly Irby to draft a statewide communications plan for lead work in New Jersey. Lastly, I did research in lead disclosure in home-child care facilities. All of this work was done under the guidance of New Jersey Future Policy Manager Gary Brune.

From this position, I learned what it took to actually get policies enacted. I also learned more about how to effectively communicate with others and how to efficiently get a point across. I am very thankful for this opportunity and am reassured that pursuing public policy as a minor was the right decision for me.

Sasha Culley

Sasha Culley

Princeton University

Field of Study: Economics and Environmental Studies

Through the Princeton RISE program, I worked on a data visualization project for Jersey Water Works (JWW) that is creating flooding impact maps overlaid with demographic data on race, income, and other vulnerability and resilience measures. My work focused on the consequences of combined sewer overflows (CSOs), a phenomenon which most acutely threatens the public health of communities of color. I gathered demographic and flood-specific data for future analysis and supported the flood mapping project by researching economic disparities within the context of water infrastructure. I analyzed the results to inform JWW member action and policy recommendations on the inextricably linked environmental and racial justice implications of CSO investment. The analysis and consequent maps will aid the identification of environmental justice hotspots and help effectively direct investment in equitable and sustainable water infrastructure solutions. I am thankful to New Jersey Future, Jersey Water Works and my supervisor, New Jersey Future Program Coordinator Lauren Belsky, who granted me insight into the complex challenges of water infrastructure and allowed me to contribute to such a purposeful project. 

Will StocovazWill Stocovaz

Princeton University

Field of Study: Public and International Affairs

This summer I worked as a data collections and analysis intern at New Jersey Future, gathering and analyzing data pertaining to systemic poverty and racial segregation in New Jersey. Utilizing census data spanning a decade, I looked for prevalent trends and compared the results to other states. With the guidance of New Jersey Future Director of Research Tim Evans, I created summaries of key metrics used to identify poverty levels and match them with demographic shifts, establishing concrete evidence for a link between poverty and race in New Jersey. These patterns point to the ways in which local land-use decisions, especially about housing, reinforce and perpetuate racial and economic segregation in New Jersey.  

This internship experience has improved many skills including my MS Excel proficiency, data analysis, time management, and research efficiency.

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