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Pollution Prevention (P2) Internships: Internship Tasks
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Getting Started - Scope of the Program
Recruiting Students
Recruiting Internship Clients
Technical Assistance and Support
Internship Tasks
Student Training
Program Costs
Measuring the Impact of the Internships
Where to go for Help
Complete List of Links

When initiating an internship, the project participants should outline the work that will be performed. The tasks involved can vary from project to project, depending on the specific objectives of the client.

Typically a P2 internship involves participating in some form of training, conducting research, touring the site, meeting with key people at the client facility/ies, reviewing information and documents provided by the client, developing recommendations or suggestions for P2 options for the client to implement, and, if appropriate and possible, following up with a client to collect available results. The objective of a successful internship program should be for the students to conduct a project that they can complete in the available time. They should not be asked to conduct exclusively administrative tasks, such as filing, data entry, and inventorying.

When technical assistance is being provided to a small businesses, such as dry cleaners, auto repair shops, or print shops, the amount of time needed to conduct the P2 site assessment and writing-up recommendations may only be one or two weeks.10 In these cases, the intern should be able to perform multiple projects or provide technical assistance to multiple businesses over the course of the internship. For example, Nebraska's Partners in Pollution Prevention (P3) Internship Program includes small businesses as a target group, and assigns student interns to conduct multiple projects at a variety of these types of facilities. A project with a large manufacturer is likely to be more complicated and involve more extensive research, so an intern will only focus on one project for these clients.

Another activity that interns can perform is public outreach and education. For example, the student internships offered by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) are specifically geared toward these tasks.11 The students work at the Agency, rather than a company, and conduct a variety of projects involving research, environmental monitoring, environmental clean-up, community outreach, and pollution prevention. Students at the University of Louisville's J.B. Speed School of Engineering in Kentucky may participate in a Cooperative Education Program with the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC). The student interns work at KPPC and assist the Center with community outreach and support focused on energy efficiency and pollution prevention topics.12

There may be situations where the standard 10-12 week summer internship is not a sufficient amount of time to fully complete a P2 project. For example, starting in 2008, the P2 Intern Program in Iowa offered an option for students to participate in three- or six-month internships. These extended internships are more suited to complex projects or cases where clients request a more significant degree of assistance.

After all of the valuable work experience that the student intern has gained and the technical assistance the companies have received, documenting the work and telling the story of its successes is important. Many internship programs require that the student produce a final report that includes their P2 recommendations to the company. For example, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's (IEPA) P2 Internship Program requires interns to submit biweekly reports highlighting their progress; and at the end of the 12-week internship, each student must submit a final written report and abstract and conduct an oral presentation to IEPA and the client about their project.13

In another example of program evaluation, before students begin their internship work under New Hampshire's Pollution Prevention Internship (P2I) Program, they must prepare a proposal for what they expect to accomplish during the internship. This pre-internship deliverable is required in addition to oral presentations conducted at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in June and September updating the progress on their projects, and a final written project report/case study submitted at the end of the internship. The final project report includes a brief summary of the work performed and appropriate educational materials developed by the student (e.g., case study, problem set, or design problem). The students must orally present the final report/case study in front of their peers and program sponsors at the conclusion of the internship.14

A P2 internship is usually considered a success when, at the conclusion of the project, businesses receive appropriate P2 recommendations that can help them save money by reducing or eliminating waste. The successes of these projects can often be promoted to other businesses and shared by pollution prevention experts and other technical assistance providers.

Last Updated: 12/23/08


10 Dvorak, Bruce I., et al. "Nebraska Pollution Prevention Project: Engineering Education through Technical Assistance." Environmental Quality Management. Spring 2003.
11 Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection:
12 Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center: [PDF]
13 Illinois Environmental Protection Agency:
14 University of New Hampshire NHP2P Website:


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Pollution Prevention (P2) Internships Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 10/8/2013