EES Internship Profile: Cole Hillis

Cole Hillis is a double major in Economics and Ecology and Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Sustainability, Natural Resource Management & Environmental Policy.

He is currently an intern at Manomet in the U360 Small Business and Sustainability Practices Program. Manomet is a non-profit organization that strives to make the world a better place by using science, while also engaging people to live in a more sustainable environment. The U360 program was created to work with small businesses to adopt sustainability practices because small businesses represent more than 50% of U.S. jobs, and combined have a large environmental footprint. The U360 program, only a few years old, has reached 71 students spanning 10 institutions across the northeast and engaged with 679 small businesses on their sustainability practices.

Hillis says that his experiences in the U360 internship have greatly increased his ability to communicate with small business owners and solidified his understanding of sustainability. As part of the class, students interview up to 20 small business owners in Maine and beyond to learn how they incorporate sustainability practices into their businesses. By the end of the semester, each student produces a sustainability action plan for one small business about sustainability practices and the operation of small businesses. Students present their sustainability action plans at a final meeting that brings together the students across all 10 participating universities.

Interviewing small business owners provides new challenges for most students. In the U360 program, students learn to effectively execute an interview and communicate with business owners. Hillis has enjoyed interviewing, saying “I do like the interviewing because I just get to talk to people that I would never get a chance to talk to in any other way.” Based on his experiences with U360, Hillis knows that after graduation, he wants to continue to work with small businesses on sustainability and environmental science issues.