PKG Social Impact Internships: Alex Kolade Paul-Ajuwape (’22)
The Satisfaction of Impactful Work
Hi I’m Alex and I am a junior studying mechanical engineering. Other than my love for sport, I am really passionate about sustainability and looking after the environment. So, when I found out about this opportunity to look into greenhouse gases and food with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) it was a no brainer I had to apply!
I have been able to work alongside smart and talented people at WWF. People who truly care about helping wildlife and the planet. In 2019, I got to attend the Net Impact conference in Detroit, MI. At that conference there were so many amazing people who were working in social impact careers and sustainability roles within their companies. It was really inspiring when people were talking about how they left their high paying jobs at big companies to do something more fulfilling. Working at WWF I have also felt this same passion from the staff. Although some projects are intense and require a lot of time, I am glad that all of our efforts are going into doing something that could really make a difference.
When I came to MIT I was ready to do something amazing with my opportunity to study at an amazing school; however, that mindset quickly seeped away into the background. As the school work picked up and the pressure on applying for jobs increased, I found myself lacking the motivation to do as much charity work as I did in high school. My internship at WWF has convinced me that I need a career that deals with key problems in the world. A career that is fulfilling and impactful.
My role at WWF involves researching and analysing journal articles about the greenhouse gas emissions associated with salmon aquaculture. Although I have done similar research before, I haven’t done anything on such a niche topic and for as many hours as I am doing now. It can often be draining trying to read so many articles everyday. There were a few days where I really didn’t want to do any work and just felt overwhelmed by all the new information I was taking in.
I had to really reflect and think about the benefits of completing my work and what would happen if I didn’t do it or even if I dropped out of the internship completely. If I carried on working hard, I could potentially find some really good data that could lead the way in the future research for the project. But what would happen if I just stopped trying and did a half-hearted job? Nothing. Not much would happen, I would have wasted a great opportunity. The possibility of this thought coming to fruition was what motivated me to do my work. As soon as I changed my way of thinking, I began enjoying the research again and wanting to put effort into my research.
This internship has been a great journey, I have learned a lot and I am excited to see what impact my research can have.
Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for Spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!