From Marketing Empty Promises to Sharing Stories of Saving the World

This year’s Climate and Society class is out in the field (or lab or office) completing a summer internship or thesis. They’ll be documenting their experiences one blog post at a time. Read on to see what they’re up to.

Ana Almerini, C+S ’18

Me in front of the Nature Conservancy’s offices. (Source: Abbie Burnell)

About three months into my post college marketing career I was driving home, crying, for the third time that week. My long commute gave me plenty of time to contemplate life and on my third crying session I finally came to the realization that this career path was not for me. While the crying sprung from many factors, I knew I needed to commit my career life to my passion in helping our world and environment not marketing products or companies I did not believe in.

To make an extremely long story short, I was accepted into the C+S program about a year after the aforementioned episode. The acceptance was perfectly timed because I was on a “stop moping and live your life” volunteer trip in Nepal. I got the acceptance email at a jewelry store waiting on my coworker and his now wife to pick out wedding rings, so I kept the news to myself to not steal their thunder. Wedding ring decided, news shared and drinks had, a new journey had just begun.

As I was letting my employer know my plans to leave for Columbia via Nepal, a coworker mentioned a friend of hers that works for the Nature Conservancy. Duh, I thought, I should apply there. I submitted my internship application for the Nature Conservancy two months into my graduate courses and promptly forgot about it while I set my brain power to understanding physics.

In the spring, I got a call from the Nature Conservancy letting me know that I was selected to interview for the internship I applied to months before. I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship position in the philanthropy and marketing department in Rochester, New York. To be quite honest, I was a bit nervous of uprooting my life to move to Rochester for the summer, but I knew working for the Nature Conservancy was what I needed to be doing because this provided the perfect opportunity to learn how an incredibly important conservation non-profit functions.

On my first day, I went from meeting to meeting and finished up the day talking about a proposal for a grant to fund research on the declining whitefish population in Lake Erie. I knew nothing about this issue but I thought this actually matters; I am in a meeting discussing real world topics that are legitimately important.

Sure, whitefish are not at the top of the list for the sexiest animal to save but in my mind every single animal deserves to survive for their own sake as well as for the world as we know it. While every plant and animal might not scream cute or exciting, they all exist for a reason. Conserving natural ecosystems is a topic I used to read about in books, and now I can be a part of the conversation that leads to their protection.

(Source: Devan King/The Nature Conservancy)

Besides discussing freshwater ecosystem health, I am putting my marketing skills to good use. One of my projects involves writing the creative brief for a promotional video on newly acquired and protected land in the Zoar Valley here in New York. In my previous marketing career, creative briefs were weekly necessities. In a creative brief, it is customary to explain what someone engaging with the ad or video might think after seeing it. But what was new for me for this brief was the “reasons to believe” section. In the past, this might have been “the product offered saves time” or “this item will make me happy.” Now, I can write things like “this protected land will sequester carbon, mitigating climate change impacts” or “this land provides a migratory pathway for various bird species.”  The creative briefs I write now come from a place of real excitement, not baseless claims trying to generate excitement for a product I don’t really care about.

Every day I walk into the office, I know I am making choices and decisions that will help our world. I know that even if I am entering data into an Excel sheet or talking about the proper wording for a survey, it will ultimately contribute to an end goal so important it really cannot be calculated. C+S has given me the knowledge and the skills to use my mind for what I really wanted to do: protect the planet. It seems like a stretch that I personally can save the world, but at least I do not cry when I leave work anymore.

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