UGA Student, Maria Thompson, Interns with Athens-Clarke County Central Services
Maria Thompson, an environmental economics major at the University of Georgia, interned with the Athens-Clarke County Central Services Department as part of the 2015 Spring Georgia County Internship Program. Thompson was hired by Environmental Coordinator, Andrew Saunders, to research and provide data for a county initiative to reduce the use of all forms of conventional energy sources in county-owned facilities.
Thompson’s main responsibilities during her internship were to research and update the facility energy usages using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®. This required her to network with local utility providers to obtain account information, to work with facility managers to document building characteristics such as age, employee count, square footage and usage, to document the past history of facility energy conservation measures, and to upload facility gas and electric usage during the past 10 years.
When asked about her most significant successes during her internship, Thompson replied that it was completing all the electric energy data uploads for the county-held account from 2005 to the present. Her favorite part of the internship was learning what caused various changes in energy usage within the county, such as construction and changes between gas and electric usage.
The internship provided Thompson with training opportunities on several database applications. She became more familiar with Excel, which she considers a useful tool to help her move forward with her career goals as it is used in most office settings. Thompson also became well versed in using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® program. The knowledge she gained by using this program helped her to obtain a summer internship with a federal agency performing similar work.
The internship not only helped Thompson to move forward in her career, but the work she performed also proved helpful to the county. According to her supervisor, Andrew Saunders:
"Maria was a huge asset to our program." he said. "Her work has helped us to demonstrate our progress on a Commission-defined goal and has already been used to reduce operational expenses. I'm excited to see how the work she did continues to benefit us for years to come."
Although Thompson is focused on a career in non-governmental agencies and environmental nonprofits, she was grateful for the chance to intern in county government and encourages her peers to be open to the experience because they have the opportunity to learn a great deal that will help them in their future endeavors.
For more information on the GCIP, please visit the ACCG Civic Affairs Foundation website at www.civicaffairs.org