Inês Carvalho is an intern at Greenpeace International.
Your position is extremely revered, what has gotten you to where you are today?
Regarding my background, I completed a bachelor program in Law, a post-graduation in European Law and a master program in Public International Law. I never worked in positions related to Law and I might consider a PhD in the future, but not right now. However, this internship is, indeed, my first job. Besides taking these academic choices, I think that what got me to where I am today was a great passion for environmental law and human rights, perseverance and a bit of luck. From where I come from (Portugal) not everyone is able to study abroad and enjoy the opportunities that it creates. Therefore, my academic background was important, but the decisions I took (related to my academic and personal life), the people who supported me and what I consider to be a strong personality were the most important elements that brought me to where I am today.
What solidified your interest in environmental law?
I first approached environmental law in my bachelor program, on the second year. I had a course about it. I always enjoyed camping and being outdoors and I always had concerns about climate changes and the environment in general. However, it was the introduction to environmental law that triggered my passion for the subject. Throughout my life I solidified my interest by reading more about the matter and learning how this subject is related to so many other areas of Law.
Do you ever feel tension between choosing the corporate path or a path more oriented towards social justice? Is it possible to do both?
I think I felt that tension more before coming to Greenpeace and before talking to my colleagues. I don’t know if it is possible to do both. How I see it is that even a corporate path is useful. And even more if you are working for a non-governmental organization which needs to know the system very well, even how the corporate world, in order to be able to fight injustices. So, I follow this idea. A corporate path might be useful to learn about the system and to receive training in other areas which can relate to environmental law. You can then use those tools to move “against the tides”.
What are your future plans?
I have no future plans. The future is open to many possibilities.
How do you approach stress management and your own well-being given the stakes can be so high working in your position?
As an intern, I haven’t dealt with very stressful situations. The stakes can be high, but I haven’t been in such position yet. However, I always put my well-being or any other colleague’s well-being very seriously. A person is more productive once is healthy. However, I admit that there might appear situations in which stress can be overwhelming. In such cases, I recommend to do whatever makes you happy outside the workplace. Being exercise, yoga, reading a book. Whatever works for a person to disconnect.
What is the most rewarding aspect of interning with Greenpeace?
The most rewarding aspect of interning with Greenpeace is to be able to do what I love: factual and legal research related to the environment and the fight against climate changes. Moreover, it is amazing to know that the work I do is actually implemented.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
As an intern, I don’t have any big challenge at the moment. However, the biggest challenge is to deal with all the different tasks that I have on my hands every day and to prioritise them.
Did you always know this was the path you wanted to go down?
The environment and human rights have been my passion since the second year of the bachelor program. And the dream to work with Greenpeace followed right after.
What does a day in your shoes look like?
I wake up and usually get to the office at 9:30 a.m. I read the news from different newspapers (Portuguese, Dutch, among others). Then I deal with the different things I have to do. I usually have research to do, memoranda to write, meetings to attend. By 17:30 I pack my bag and return home. The next day I wake up ready for another battle.
How important a role does confidence play in your work?
Confidence between colleagues and on their work is essential for the work we do at Greenpeace. We trust that the information disclosed is always very accurate.
What has been your most valuable lesson learnt through your experience with the law?
The most valuable lesson learnt is to always make doubts in your own mind. I don’t mean by this that you must be suspicious of everyone and of everything. What I want to say is that, nowadays, there is a lot of information circulating. A person needs to select the information and not to believe everything. There is a lot of misinformation around. So, be accurate, be curious and be willing to dig.