From 17-year-old climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor to climate biologist and activist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, climate role models across the world are forging climate solutions and galvanising individuals and communities to take and demand climate action.
At a time when doom and gloom dominate the discourse, they lead, inspire, and teach. So when 17-year-old student Bella got in touch with CPR seeking inspiration and wanting to shadow us for a day, we knew we wanted to swing our doors wide open:
“As the only girl in my computer science class, it is sometimes difficult for me to see role models in the field,” Bella said in her note to us, “but seeing the diversity of gender on your board is inspiring.”
We asked Bella what drove her to reach out: “I was looking for a place where I could do work experience over the summer holidays as I wanted to gauge what sort of jobs are out there in the climate sector.
“I Googled ‘climate AI companies’ and CPR came close to the top. I liked the idea that you were a small company and had great values.”
We wanted to make sure this was a shared learning opportunity: for Bella to gain a useful insight into the climate startup world, and for us to think about how we can better engage young people whose booming voices are shaking up activism across the globe. We already knew we enjoyed working with young people, as last summer we had five 16-year-old students engage in paid summer work with us to support our early data labelling activities, while receiving training on climate policy and machine learning.
From PDF parsing to policy: a day in the life at CPR
On her day in the office, our CPR team gave whistle-stop tours of climate change policy, data science and AI, software engineering and front-end development. She even took a crack at code writing and did the test we used to screen applicants for technical roles at CPR. Bella also dipped her toes into agile ways of working, observing our mammoth sprint planning and review meetings, where we evaluate our team’s developments over the past two weeks (our ‘sprints’), and set out our priorities for the next two. We survived, Bella’s photo below proves.
“I learnt a lot about how CPR works and this emphasised to me the importance of clarity and transparency in policies which are made by governments and companies to ensure that they can be held accountable for the climate pledges that they make,” Bella reflected.
“I was also interested in the work being done in PDF parsing and I hadn’t even considered that that would be an issue when reading documents.
“I learnt how a start-up operates and the supportive and enthusiastic environment needed to maintain the goals needed in the team. I felt a renewed passion for helping solve climate change.”
The best bits from work experience in our climate startup
Bella survived a baptism of fire in sitting through almost three hours of back-to-back meetings with the Climate Policy Radar team, which drew her day to a close and signalled the start of a long train journey home. We asked what she enjoyed the most.
“I enjoyed speaking to each member of the team the most where I could ask questions and learn about the work that you do as well as how you programme the AI that you use.
“Speaking to Peter [software engineer], he walked me through how I could improve the code that I had written as a search algorithm to find keywords in a database, which I found really valuable. Learning about the diverse careers that everyone had before and how you all got to CPR was really interesting as well.”
Bella admits she was quite nervous coming in, so we were glad that we “made me feel at home”.
“I feel really inspired by all of you and I hope that one day I can be on a project which is doing work like this, and in such a welcoming environment!” she added. “I am really excited for where Climate Policy Radar is going to go.”
We’re excited too. We launched the first version of our climate policy platform earlier this year, which allows you to search thousands of climate change law and policy documents from across the world. Start your climate law an policy search on our app now, and later this year we’ll be releasing our next version with a bunch of new features. We’ll be sharing our latest developments with you soon.
Beyond that, we’ll be borrowing Bella’s top tips for social media and engaging with young people, as we explore ways to grow our open climate data community.
And for Bella? “I hope to do a geography degree with a focus on mathematics, which I hope will lead me onto a career related to the climate - but I know that is not very specific as it looks like that’s where all jobs are headed!
“Being involved in data science and perhaps climate modelling would be a great possibility too!”
The team were super impressed with Bella’s initiative and courage, and know that she will go on to do awesome things - we’re looking forward to finding out what’s next for her!