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Internships at Foresight

Foresight believes fostering talent produces exponential impact over time. Since its inception in 2003, Foresight has provided individuals the opportunity to gain hands-on experience on a wide variety of sustainability-related projects. Interns are an integral part of fulfilling the organization's mission and contributing to its success. As team members, they are seen as capable of making significant contributions to programs and operational capacity. The organization offers meaningful tasks in proportion to demonstrated maturity and abilities. Through hands-on experience, participants are encouraged to foster those qualities that will contribute to their professional development. These include:

  • Cultivating skills;
  • Acquiring and deepening knowledge;
  • Forging connections; and
  • Developing judgment.

Expectations & Commitment
Given the potential level of responsibility, expectations for professional conduct, thorough attention to detail, and timely work are high. Interns are with the organization for 20+ hours per week for a minimum of three months, if not longer (Foresight has hosted interns for as long a year). In order for both the organization and the participant to benefit, this is the shortest commitment available. On occasion, interns with specialized skills are sought (e.g. graphic design, social media, nonprofit administration, marketing, fundraising, etc.) to contribute to specific projects that may require fewer hours, and/or offsite work. All candidates must have a means of supporting themselves in order to insure that they are able to fulfill the demands of the position for the entire period, and be prepared to defer starting any new, conflicting positions until the end of their agreed-upon term.

No two internships are exactly alike. Foresight tries to structure opportunities to take advantage of existing skills and interests, as well as meet current and evolving organizational needs. Candidates are encouraged to consider what they have to offer, as well as what they are looking to receive from the experience. Most opportunities include at least two parts: a modest, ongoing "base load" that involves becoming familiar with Chicago's sustainability sector by contributing to the Foresight Forecast media hub; and at least one, if not more, special projects. These vary depending on intern interests, skills and current organizational undertakings. Reflecting Foresight's broad reach, they have comprised a breadth of activities. Recent examples include conducting in-depth research on global biomimicry practitioners, contributing to the design of a new educational program, strategizing on a new media initiative, and developing sustainability metrics for a new social venture, among others. Other, short-term assignments are often provided as well. Interns participate in a mid-term review, and are solicited for their input on both the program and their growth during an exit interview.

Prospective interns are closely screened to ensure they understand and can meet expectations. In addition to confirming availability, qualities sought include a genuine desire to learn, some initial skills or areas of knowledge, a positive attitude, a sense of humor, and solid communication and organization abilities, among others. The best interns tend to be self-motivated, resourceful and able to work independently as well as with others. Supervision is offered to overcome barriers, establish priorities, provide direction and resources, and develop judgment. Undergraduates, as well as those with graduate degrees, have participated. Compensation All internships are unpaid. Participants are compensated through the experience, skills development, knowledge acquisition, and connections made available while working. If the internship is productive and positive, Foresight will serve as a reference for future job opportunities and offer networking suggestions.

When to Apply

  • Fall Internships: Applications for fall internships (generally September to December) will be considered on a rolling basis starting in June.
  • Spring Internships: Applications for spring internships (generally January to April) will be considered on a rolling basis starting in October.
  • Summer Internships: Applications for summer internships (generally May to August) will be considered on a rolling basis starting in February. Note: We are currently unable to accept additional interns for summer 2014. We encourage you to consider applying for the fall, and/or to contact one of peer organizations in Chicago's sustainability-oriented sector.

The program's track record of success has driven demand and subsequent competition for these positions. Alumni have gone on to a variety of positions in for- and non-profit enterprises around the country, several of which are profiled on Foresight's blog.

Learn more about about how internship alumni are forging a more resilient future:

Lucinda Dieker
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Bill Schleizer
Delta Institute

Danya Sherman
Friends of the High Line

Jennifer Wang
UCal Berkely

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Foresight's team has undertaken sustainability related projects from large public exhibits, to reconsidering (and understanding) complex systems.

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