Sustainability internships serve up new opportunities at Aramark

Talent Show

Sustainability internships serve up new opportunities at Aramark

Aramark, a food service and facility management firm, knows that setting up a solid sustainability internship not only can attract bright, young talent for that short stint, but can keep them on as sustainability experts. At least, that was the idea when Aramark's Sustainability Internship Program was created, with the aim of helping to gain and train employees who have practical sustainability, as well as business, know-how.

From a recruiter’s perspective, I laud this as an innovative move because it goes hand in hand with my mantra that “all jobs should be sustainability jobs.” Indeed, sustainability is becoming incorporated into every role within companies. Aramark didn’t turn the other cheek on this here-to-stay trend, but embraced it, seeing that an employee doesn’t need a sustainability title to be doing sustainability work.

The talent is noticing, too, that Aramark’s sustainability leadership might just represent a job opportunity in the future. That explains why the program has grown from 10 interns at its inception in 2011 to 27 in its current cohort only two years later. Eight interns have already been hired on after their internships at Aramark client locations. And the impact interns are having at their respective sites is impressive, such as saving Lake Powell Resort & Marinas $12,000 by recommending it switch to reusable cups, or helping Asiloar Conference Grounds in Monterey, Calif., save 400,000 gallons of water a year by upgrading its bathroom fixtures. Check out the 2012 interns and their other achievements here.

Kathy Cacciola, senior director of environmental sustainability at Aramark, sees the program as having a positive impact on the quality of the company’s future workforce. In a press statement, she says, “Through initiatives such as Aramark’s Sustainability Internship Program, we’re driving toward a work environment where sustainability is integrated throughout our workforce. In the same way that we accept that everyone in the workplace has a responsibility to communicate effectively, or manage costs, we look toward a future where all employees have the responsibility, and ability, to effectively advance sustainability throughout our organization.”

The internship program was created in partnership with the Student Conservation Association, whose mission is to develop the next generation of conservation leaders and to promote environmental stewardship by engaging youth in hands-on service. The internship gives young professionals the chance to work in a corporate environment while gaining firsthand experience as they implement environmental, health and wellness, and community-oriented solutions for a variety of clients including schools, universities, hospitals, national parks, stadiums and other businesses.

One program graduate, Ila Galanti, was hired on immediately following her internship, noting, “I would never have imagined that I could have a job that incorporates sustainability and large-scale food service, but through my sustainable dining internship with Aramark I have found a job that I love.” Galanti was one of the company’s first sustainability interns in 2011 and was tasked with advancing composting, recycling and locally produced food sourcing and other sustainable dining initiatives on the University of Chicago’s campus.

Galanti stood out from the crowd because she was proactive on the job in coming up with new ideas. She was essential to developing a nutrition labeling system that is user-friendly for the dining team while also upholding strict food-labeling standards. Her professional assertiveness and passion for sustainability and food issues led to being offered a new Aramark position of registered dietician at the University of Chicago.

Michael Seaman shares a similar success story after completing his Aramark internship at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, where he helped facilitate the Environmental Management System certification, advanced the conference center’s sustainable food and beverage program and improved its waste diversion. This led him to an opportunity from Aramark to become an environmental and purchasing manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“The internship offered me a chance to support environmental stewardship initiatives in key operational roles with an international company, provided me with a glimpse of what an enormous food and facility service operation actually entails, and gave me a hefty dose of reality along with it,” Seaman told 3BLMedia.

Cacciola says Aramark acknowledges “that our workforce is evolving and changing and we are looking at ways to better engage young people by designing career opportunities around our shared interests. Today’s generation want to be connected to issues and concerns they care about such as corporate responsibility and sustainability. Through this program, we are tapping into their enthusiasm and expertise to help implement client solutions in this area.”

At a time when there is clearly a growing interest in sustainability from job-seeking college graduates and a simultaneous demand from businesses to hire and train sustainability- and corporate responsibility-savvy individuals, this program seems ripe for the picking.

To apply for a 2013 Aramark sustainability internship position, click here. To learn more about sustainability and CSR career choices, read this recap of a recent online chat hosted by CSRwire’s Aman Singh with Aramark and SCA as guests.

Below is a nifty graphic that provides a summary of Aramark's program.