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Volunteer at the Energy Academy

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Job Description

energy-academy-volunteer

Who is eligible?

Each year the Energy Academy welcomes two to four interns from all around the world to come and work on Samsø. This position is offered to any self-motivated college student pursuing a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree with a strong academic drive and passion for sustainability.

Interns must have their own source of funding and means of traveling to and from Samsø.

Fluency in either English or Danish is highly recommended.

What type of internship is this?

This is an unpaid, non-credited, 10-week internship position. The Academy has hosted interns during every season of the year, so dates are flexible and can be negotiated. Office hours are flexible as well, as long as 40 hours are logged in total each week.

We are happy to make this position fulfill graduation requirements.

What type of work would I be doing?

All interns are expected to come to the Academy with a primary research topic or general project already in mind that directly relates to our story and mission. In addition to working on this overarching project, interns will acquire several smaller tasks while collaborating with our staff of project managers, consultants, and advisers. Some of these projects may include the following:

  • Writing articles for the website, newsletter, and local newspaper
  • Developing new features for our website and upcoming digital platform
  • Conducting surveys or questionnaires in the community or online
  • Creating proposals for new improvements or additions to our current educational and energy infrastructures
  • Preparing summary reports for meetings and events

What is the work environment like?

Interns are provided with a desk in the main office room surrounded by all fellow employees. With a tall ceiling and plenty of natural sunlight, the space feels very open and inviting. Energy Academy work environmentThe non-uniform size, arrangement, and height of the desks promote a casual and creative work environment. The staff members are regularly conversing in Danish, speaking on the phone with a client, or just working independently on a project.

There are also two mezzanine spaces located in the Academy, which allow for more intimate work such as one on one meetings or Skype conferences.

Around midday, everyone moves into the kitchen to prepare a veritable spread of food for the community lunch program. There is always a wide array of lunch items to choose from, including gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Lunchtime at the Academy is a time for exchanging ideas and sharing thoughts concerning independent work and upcoming projects. It is the optimal time to ask questions to the knowledgeable staff or request time afterwards to meet. Interns are highly encouraged to participate in the program.

What is the physical environment like?

It is no secret that Samsø is one of the most beautiful sites in all of Denmark, hosting thousands of Danish and international tourists each year. The island is located right in the center of Denmark, halfway between Jutland (mainland Denmark) and Zealand (major island) in the Kattegat Sea.

Samsø landscapeThe island is mostly covered in crop fields, with patches of rolling green hills and trees spotted along the landscape. Also, there is a small area of heavily-wooded forest that separates the northern and southern populations on the island. The coastline is a mixture of small rocks and sand.

During the summer months, the average temperature is between 16°C – 18°C and the sun is often shining. There is a steady, refreshing ocean breeze that creates the perfect conditions for outdoor sporting and activities such as biking, fishing, golf, football, swimming, and kayaking.

The summer is the heaviest tourist season, and as a result there are several events and opportunities from strawberry picking to music festivals.

Samsø wind millsDuring the winter months, the average temperature is between 0°C – 4°C and it is often cloudy. The wind is very strong throughout the whole year, but particularly strong in the winter. It does not usually snow on the island, and when it does it is usually just a light dusting.

The winter is a much quieter time on the island when a majority of the municipal and administrative events take place.

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Estimated Cost Of Living

Where would I be living?

Designated intern housing is located in Kolby Kås, a small village on the island approximately 10 km southwest of the Academy. The space is a rental home owned by the Energy Academy’s director, Søren Hermansen, and his wife Malene Lundén, who live in a small house on the same property.

Samsø houseIt is a quaint, old farmhouse with plenty of space: four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. Interns are charged a flat monthly rate for all accommodations (electricity, heating, water, internet, and garbage).

Please note that additional housing may become available in one of the small towns on the island, but this fluctuates seasonally. As a result, housing arrangements are usually made on an individual basis depending on the length and time of your stay.

How will I travel on the island?

There is an island bus service that can provide transportation to the Academy, as well as most other towns on the island. The bus follows route 131 of Midttrafik bus services. A full bus schedule can be found here.

How will I travel on the island?

There is an island bus service that can provide transportation to the Academy, as well as most other towns on the island. The bus follows route 131 of Midttrafik bus services. A full bus schedule can be found here https://www.midttrafik.dk/koereplaner/regionalbusser,-lokalbusser-og-teletaxa.aspx#rute1589

There is also a bicycle designed for intern use.

Lastly, the Academy has an electric car that can be used for any work-related trips on the island (e.g. traveling to a resident’s home for an interview, transporting a visitor to/from the ferry, getting to the municipality for a meeting, etc…). This car is not to be used for commuting to and from the office.

Do I have to buy my own food?

Yes, interns are expected to provide themselves with food for each meal of the day. However, it is not uncommon to share dinner with Søren and/or Malene if they are not travelling. Lunches during the week are covered by the community lunch program at the Academy if you choose to participate.

The two major supermarkets on Samsø, Netto and SuperBrugsen, are located in the capital town, Tranebjerg, which is about 4 km west of the Academy.

Weekly Expenditures Estimate*

Rent and accommodations10-trip Bus Pass (to and from the Academy Mon.-Fri.)Food (breakfast, dinner, and snacks)Community lunch program
500,00 DKK140,00 DKK600,00 DKK62,50 DKK

≈ 1.302,50 DKK/wk

*Only one example, individual rates will vary

Intern Alumni Testimonials

Nicholas Urban

Name:Country:College/University:Degree Program:Time of Work:Email Address:

Nicholas UrbanUSACollege of the AtlanticBachelor’sJanuary-March 2014nurban@coa.edu


What major project or research goal brought you to the Energy Academy?

“To develop a framework for an educational program aimed at a group of students from my own university, who plan on visiting the island and studying the “Samsø model” during the Fall of 2014.”

What was the most important thing you learned while working at the Energy Academy?

“The importance of obtaining community support for any sustainable energy or general development project, as well as how to effectively encourage widespread participation and continuing support for a project.”

Looking back, how has your experience shaped where you are today?

“Returning home to my undergraduate work, I now view every project I work on for my university as an inherently collaborative process that requires a holistic and democratic style of approach.”

What is one word of advice you would give to a new intern at the Academy?

“Clear and concise communication is key. Get comfortable with drawing sketchings and creating visual models of your ideas. Also, try your best to explore the island every chance you have, it is spectacular!”


Rowan Boeters

Name:Country:College/University:Degree Program:Time of Work:Email Address:

Rowan BoetersNetherlandsDelft Technical University & Leiden UniversityMaster’sNovember 2013-January 2014rowanboeters@gmail.com


What major project or research goal brought you to the Energy Academy?

“My master’s thesis on demand-side management. The Energy Academy was very helpful in providing me with data, contacts, and a place to do my thesis while working towards realizing my goals.

What was the most important thing you learned while working at the Energy Academy?

“Danish people/Samsingers need a straight-forward approach in order for them to help you with your project. Come well prepared and be active; go out, explore, and conquer. Also, avoid wintertime =)”

Looking back, how has your experience shaped where you are today?

“Going to Samsoe really helped in collecting the data I needed for my thesis. The Academy also helped me organize and hold a workshop with some of the islanders to give something back to the community.”

What is one word of advice you would give to a new intern at the Academy?

“Start contacting them long before you arrive. The Academy can help you with a lot of things, so do not be reluctant to ask. Keep in mind that their idealism got them to where they are today.”


Irina Papazu

Name:Country:College/University:Degree Program:Time of Work:Email Address:

Irina PapazuDenmarkUniversity of CopenhagenDoctoralSeptember-December 2013ipa@ifs.ku.dk


What major project or research goal brought you to the Energy Academy?

“My PhD project at the Department of Political Science. I am investigating what you might call ‘Samsø as a climate change political laboratory’. Working at the Academy was part of my fieldwork.”

What was the most important thing you learned while working at the Energy Academy?

“I have learned a lot about past, current, and future projects regarding energy innovations and climate change on Samsø. Also, being a long-term guest, you are immediately included as a colleague at the Energy Academy. As a PhD student who normally works alone in a secluded office, that’s a really positive experience.”

Looking back, how has your experience shaped where you are today?

“I left the Academy knowing which themes to pursue and which perspectives to follow in my PhD project. In the spring and early summer of 2014, I’ll be returning to Samsø to wrap up my fieldwork. I also expect to keep in touch and show up for the occasional meeting here and there.”

What is one word of advice you would give to a new intern at the Academy?

“It’s always very windy, but wind means money on Samsø. So don’t let them hear you complain about it :)”


Alex Newcombe

Name:Country:College/University:Degree Program:Time of Work:Email Address:

Alex NewcombeAustraliaQueensland University of TechnologyMaster’sAugust 2012alexander.newcombe@connect.qut.edu.au


What major project or research goal brought you to the Energy Academy?

“My interest in a career in the field of sustainable energy development.”

What was the most important thing you learned while working at the Energy Academy?

“(1) The importance of the social aspect to development and (2) the opportunity to incorporate this social aspect into sustainable energy development.”

Looking back, how has your experience shaped where you are today?

“The experience has taught me a lot about sustainable energy development and the role and relationship it has with the community. It has also inspired me to further pursue my career goals.”

What is one word of advice you would give to a new intern at the Academy?

“Ask as many questions as you can and get involved. Get your hands dirty and meet as many people as possible.”


Robert Leteff

Name:Country:College/University:Degree Program:Time of Work:Email Address:

Rob LeteffUSAUniversity of WyomingMaster’sMay-July 2011rleteff@gmail.com


What major project or research goal brought you to the Energy Academy?

“I sought to understand the social factors behind the success of the Energy Island Project.”

What was the most important thing you learned while working at the Energy Academy?

“My research findings suggested that a close knit community, equitable political processes, and public support led to the success of the Energy Island Project.”

Looking back, how has your experience shaped where you are today?

“My research on Samsø still influences the work I do because it taught me the importance of stakeholder inclusion and public outreach.”

What is one word of advice you would give to a new intern at the Academy?

“Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone you can while on the island. I met some wonderful people there just by telling people where I was from and why I was on the island. The social network there is very useful and meeting people through others was very helpful.”

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