I was unsure what to expect on the first day of my internship at the Earth Hour office in Sydney. Being an American student studying abroad, I didn’t know what differences I would find between Earth Hour and my previous internships in the United States. Starting only three weeks away from the Earth Hour event, I was expecting to see thirty or more people frantically running around the office scrambling together the last minute details for the campaign. Although, from my first steps into the office, I found my expectations were completely unfounded. There were just twelve people working side by side; the atmosphere in the office was unexpectedly calm. From this small, yet cozy office the Earth Hour team was able to launch the largest grassroots environmental campaign in history. It didn’t seem to make sense to me at the time.
Within the first week of being at Earth Hour I began to realize how the team relied on each other to make the campaign a success. Morning meetings, discussions over coffee, and constant dialogue between team members made me appreciate the value of working as a group. The team ethic is truly valued in the organization and has contributed to its success the past five years. Each member has an important position and played an integral role in the campaign process. As an outsider, I didn’t know how the office would welcome and treat me, although when I made a mistake or two, I was always encouraged and never reprimanded. This supportive behavior made me feel comfortable in my new position.
As an intern, my job was to help the team in any way possible. I was never asked to do the typical intern jobs often required in the US such as getting coffee or scanning endless sheets of paper. I worked on a range of assignments including conducting research on events and managing media before and after Earth Hour.
The significance of group success, and not individual success was something I had never witnessed in previous jobs in the US. Everyone’s work was valued and appreciated. Small to big achievements were celebrated with cheering by every member of the team, from an article being published in a newspaper to a new country officially stating their participation in the campaign. They demonstrated team values I had never seen or really understood before.
The actual joy of coming into work everyday was due to the lightheartedness of team’s interactions. No matter what issue was occurring or however close that deadline was approaching, everyone still managed to maintain a sense of humor. Whether it was Billy’s bugle blowing or Andy’s witty remarks, the environment was always friendly and lively.
During the weekend of Earth Hour, the team was sleepless for two days, overseeing the first Earth Hour in New Zealand to the last one in the Cook Islands. Their dedication and countless hours spent in the office had all paid off for the campaign. Throughout the two months I interned at Earth Hour, I was able to witness twelve people work together to create a campaign, which reaches immeasurable individuals throughout the world. The size of the team doesn’t match its strength and intensity of work for the Earth Hour mission. My experience has taught me the importance of working as a group to achieve immense success. -Arielle Rapaport