Last spring I finished up my 4-month-long internship as a Research and Innovation Intern with Day of Adaptation (DAYAD). I was part of a bigger research project within DAYAD to find out what are the benefits and limitations of gamification in tackling the problem of climate change and climate adaptation on the organisation and community level. This is an ongoing project, so you will hear more about it in the future! In addition to research, as I got to know the organisation more I also got engaged with the marketing and communications side of things.
Diving into the world of climate communication has helped me consider the approaches I have for talking about complex environmental issues. Rather than only share information about climate change, working with DAYAD has made me want to encourage action and spread positive energy to those around me. The science behind these issues is important, but an IPCC report is not the easiest way for people to get engaged on climate action. DAYAD is all about taking another approach: creating a fun, interactive setting for people to learn and exchange ideas.
So, having finished this internship period, what did I learn about DAYAD by working there? Here are my four key insights.
1. DAYAD gives team members opportunities to work on their own interests
This internship was a great learning experience in many ways. I was given plenty of responsibility over my own projects and gained more confidence in a professional setting. I organised meetings with academic experts, presented my work in internal and external meetings, and wrote for different outlets, both academically and on the website and social media.
In addition to participating in the research project, I was also encouraged to contribute to other projects which aligned with my own interests. This is how I got involved in the Marketing and Communications side of DAYAD. I was part of updating the marketing strategy and the website, content creation, and coordinating volunteer efforts for marketing and social media.
Having spent a considerable amount of time learning about these issues on my own through watching Youtube videos and through blogging, I found these activities really fascinating and was grateful for this opportunity to learn more and put my knowledge into practice. It was really a win-win situation: I got to work on my own interests, and at the same time contribute to the bigger picture of the organization. Finding such synergies is really at the heart of DAYAD.
2. DAYAD looks to learn from every member of the team
The founder Shu Liang and the rest of the team were great in welcoming me into the organisation. The working environment at Day of Adaptation is non-hierarchical, and I was always encouraged to share my thoughts. This created a positive atmosphere where I felt part of the team since the beginning. I have had many interesting and fun conversations with the team about everything ranging from the creation of narratives for climate change, to the yoga moves we learned in class the previous day.
Despite being new to the organisation, I was given the opportunity to join in on brainstorming sessions for fundraising, organisational strategy for the year, and various other projects. It was really cool to see the workings of a small and growing non-profit organisation from so many different angles, and I have great respect for Shu’s ability to juggle all of the different topics. I learned a lot, and was also asked to share my ideas as DAYAD values every team member’s thoughts and experiences.
3. DAYAD is still a small non-profit, and that requires some flexibility
Working with the DAYAD team was an absolute pleasure, but there were also some moments that I found challenging. Because many members of the team are volunteers working other jobs during the day, we often had our meetings in the evenings. This was sometimes tiring, although at the end of meetings I usually felt inspired because of the great discussions and energy I got from the team.
I also learned that things take time to materialise when working with different people. This goes especially for external outreach on our research project, and trying to find time to discuss our projects with busy people. When we did connect though, we usually had fruitful discussions – there seems to be many people who really like the DAYAD approach to communication through climate games. You can never have too many allies working for this cause, and as Shu says: “If you do it alone you go fast, but if you do it together you go far.”
4. DAYAD values the well-being of every member of the team
Looking back, the most memorable moments for me working at Day of Adaptation were when I brought over cake on my birthday to share at the office, and when Shu convinced me to try winter swimming and we dipped into the Amstel River near our co-working office in Amsterdam. This reflects the work-life balance during my internship: the work gets done, but it’s also important to take breaks and take care of personal well-being. Members of the team are always encouraged to contribute what they can, when they can, but it’s also respected and met with support when people need to take some time off to rest. This to me seems like a sustainable way to work in the field of climate change which easily starts feeling heavy.
Meetings would also include some fun exchanges in addition to talking about work. Every meeting started with a check-in on how we’re doing and what we have been up to, which was a nice way to get to know the members of my own organisational cluster and members of other teams. I was encouraged to reach out and get to know everyone, which was nice despite the fact that the team was scattered all over Europe and beyond, and we usually connected through Zoom. Shu also encouraged people to get to know each other by always sharing a fun fact of people who were meeting each other for the first time, making work at DAYAD fun and social.
I’m happy to say that I will be staying involved with the work of Day of Adaptation going forward as a part-time Marketing Consultant, and providing support for the research project I have been working on. At Day of Adaptation, different experiences and ways of thinking are seen as a strength, and I think the diversity of the team reflects that. If you are curious about Day of Adaptation and our work, I highly recommend getting in touch! We’re a friendly bunch that are passionate about not only effective communication about climate change, but also having fun as a team and learning as we go along. You can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are curious to know about internship possibilities at Day of Adaptation, or contact us directly through this form if you want to volunteer your time.
Author: Minttu Hänninen
About the author: Minttu has a MSc in Sustainable Development from Utrecht University, with a specialization in environmental governance. She is excited about sustainability communications, and dreams of a spacious rooftop terrace where she can grow herbs and colorful flowers.