A Small Team Making a Big Difference: An Intern’s Look at NCS

By 2014 NCS Intern
Teija Mortvedt

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” -Steve Jobs

People often think that it takes extraordinary genius, luck, or serendipity to make big things happen. That corporations are untouchable behemoths that rule the world. I had grown up with the preconception that only the ‘big’ could produce big. At Natural Capitalism Solutions, I’ve seen the truth first hand: that businesses everywhere run off of the work of individuals, whose passion and dedication can make change and can influence the world. It is real people, not governments and corporations, who build the things that make up the world around us. While interning at NCS, I felt like a contributing member of a small team making an indisputably large impact. It has always been a dream of mine to make a dent in this world for the better and this experience has made me feel that not only is this dream worth striving for, but it is actually very attainable –an exciting paradigm shift that already changed my approach to work and life.

Despite their many accomplishments, the talented people of NCS are unpretentious and down-to-earth.  Rather than going to work every day in an intimidating skyscraper or sprawling building complex, their office is located in a setting very similar to most people’s everyday lives, a small white house in the “unincorporated community” of Hygiene Colorado. Every day at work I felt welcomed and at home. I think this environment encourages authentic decision making and keeps you grounded in the real world where the impacts of those decisions ultimately fall.

The mentors at NCS were also very relatable due to the small nature of the team, I felt that everyone was very accessible and available for real conversations.  On our first day, Toby the CEO talked to the interns about NCS as an organization, their mission and the current projects on the table that we would have the opportunity to work on. Each of us were given the chance to select our top choice and in the end, we were all able to contribute significantly to that specific project. This is something I appreciated most about my internship, I was almost always given several options to choose from for my weekly project. It really personalized the experience and made me work even harder and dig deeper because I was involved with matters that I cared about and wanted to learn from.

It was also very enlightening to get a glimpse into the inner circle of sustainability. It was eye opening to see the realities of sustainability on an elite level and better understand the different types of people involved, their relationships, and how they collaborate with one another. Progress truly depends on communication and coordination between groups and individuals to execute a plan. I loved interacting with so many genuine people who were determined to make a difference. I found that most people in this sector, regardless of notoriety, are incredibly kind, generous, and will help anyone who asks.

During my time at Natural Capitalism Solutions, I have learned so much and met some wonderful people. I have made authentic sustainability contributions and thinking about the substantial impact these contributions will have when applied to larger scale operations has solidified my resolve to continue on in this field. I will always be grateful for this invaluable introduction to professional sustainability and for the mentorship along the way. I understand that we would have no big without the help of the small. I have seen individuals enact change that will have massive impacts down the line and I move forward knowing that I have the potential to do the same one day.