Sierra Club Activists Talk Best Internship On Earth [Interview]

Photo: (Sierra Club)

Photo: (Sierra Club)

In March we encouraged you all to try out for the Sierra Club’s Best Internship on Earth, and young activists Izzy Weisz and Daniel Cespedes ended up getting the two coveted slots.


Photo: Daniel + Izzy on the job.

They’re spending their summer helping the earth and video-blogging all about it, so MTV Act wanted to know what it’s like to have the best internship on earth and how we can all get involved in environmental protection!

ACT: What was your first reaction to finding out you were chosen?

IZZY: In one word, disbelief. Two words, giddy disbelief. After ending the phone call, which mostly consisted of me gushing, “Wow, I can’t believe this — thank you” over and over again, I collapsed on this grassy field at my college and waited for my best friend to get out of class. We then jumped up and down in 5-year-old-girl-fashion for approximately 20 minutes.

DANIEL: An impromptu bagpiping session and an explosion of rainbows and butterflies.


Photo: Daniel bagpiping in the Grand Canyon

ACT: What has been your favorite destination so far, and why?

DANIEL: At the risk of sounding like a hippie — definitely protesting uranium mining with the Havasupai Native Americans. Not only is it cool for me to get the chance to associate with folks from such a unique and rich cultural background, it means a lot to me to know that what I’m doing can help a situation where people’s lives are at stake.

IZZY: For purely aesthetic reasons, I’m going to have to say the Grand Canyon. It’s hard to beat the feeling of awe that comes from standing on a bluff two miles down inside the canyon. I had a moment there, sitting and staring off into the distance. It was also our first trip, so I was that much more of a newbie at the job and every single part was both exciting and overwhelming.

ACT: What’s the biggest thing you learned from this experience?

IZZY: On a serious and extremely general note, probably how to go through the creative process of thinking up a concept and then shooting it, and doing it all on the fly. On a less serious note, how to actually be a grownup and check my email regularly instead of just using my smartphone for Instagram.

DANIEL: If you’re trying to make a production that will successfully have an impact, you need to be very specific about what you want your final product to look like. This internship has undergone some significant conceptual changes even since we started, and it has chiefly had to do with narrowing the focus of our goal so that we don’t risk diluting the effectiveness of the videos.


Photo: Daniel + Izzy enjoying the great outdoors.

ACT: What’s your advice for other students trying to secure a dream internship?

DANIEL: Never be bashful in following your own interests and dreams. Everything I’ve done that made me an “ideal candidate” for this internship really felt like a folly/hobby/obsession at the time. You really can’t go wrong in pursuing your interests, because even if it doesn’t prep you for your dream job, at the very least it will make you an interesting person. Passion is what makes people interesting.

IZZY: My best piece of advice is to actually APPLY. Sounds obvious, but I’m guessing a lot of people go through the same thought process I initially did, which was, “Getting this internship is a pipe dream, so why even try?”

ACT: How can others join you in helping the Sierra Club? What are some easy ways people can become more environmentally friendly?

IZZY: Turn off lights! Shorten your showers! Bike! In my application video, I go around my college campus doing ridiculous and annoying things to get people to help the environment, but each segment has truth in it. The little things add up. Follow the Sierra Club on social media or check out the site online. Also, I’ve heard these two interns are making really cool videos for the Sierra Club, so you could check those out. Just sayin’.

DANIEL: Become a minimalist! Invest in stuff that lasts longer. Not only are you lessening the market demand for disposable goods, your stuff will have more character to it. So go and shop at thrift shops with a clean conscience.

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