Helena Keane

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Helena's Net Zero Internship

Hi, I’m Helena and I was the 2023 intern for the Net Zero team at Tees Valley Combined Authority and I study environmental science at the University of Manchester.

I decided to apply to work for the TVCA at the end of my first year at university. Studying environmental science, I found it hard to find work experience in the field that is both interesting, and a place that I can apply my knowledge, so when I saw this internship, I jumped at the chance to apply. Also, the fact the internship was paid and ran for three weeks over the summer really influenced me to apply, as many internships are unpaid and over inconvenient times.

Over the three weeks, I completed a report looking at green and blue hydrogen to make fuel, which is a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. I also looked at water constraints and uses in infrastructure in the local area, which is then used to produce this hydrogen fuel. This developed my research skills and allowed me to apply my own knowledge which was exciting to do so in a work environment rather than at school or university.

I also attended tree planting training sessions which help train tree officers in the Net Zero team to decarbonise our area. This scheme was especially interesting as I was able to leave the office for part of the day to do some hands-on training, from visiting areas 10 minutes away, to a site in Leeds, with the Woodland Trust.

Being able to attend day trips and meetings with the TVCA really helped me settle in and meet people across my team, as well as providing me with professional experience that I was otherwise lacking.

At the TVCA, I learnt what it is like to work in an office environment and the type of work that the TVCA carries out, which covers an array of departments from HR to Net Zero to Marketing. I also learnt more about decarbonisation and hydrogen fuel through my project.

Moving on from the TVCA, I get to apply my experience in the workplace to certain aspects of my degree, to social situations, and for future job opportunities. This internship solidified my ideas that I would like a career in the climate change sector, with particular interest in more hands-on and practical based roles.

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