Conscious Business

UpOd or OpUd? Internships


This post was originally published in the Spotlight on Sustainability graduate newsletter for the Global Leadership and Sustainable Development program.

On what will your life legacy be built? When you’re older, how will you describe your time, at university? In Hawaii?

Will you talk about the schoolwork? Nah! Or, how hot/cold the classrooms are? Maybe. Or, perhaps you’ll remember the amazing professor who inspired you to see your world in a new way? Yep! Or, the unique people you met and experiences you had paying-it-forward by giving back to our island community? In my view, you are more likely to remember the folks you met while serving the community.

HPU students help clear out invasive vegetation at He`eia fishpond

Aloha, I’m Rob Kinslow, Iʻve volunteered, consulted and served with dozens of organizations in Hawai`i funding campaigns and following through on thousands of hours of consulting. I’ve been in the islands for almost 20 years as a change agent, creating events and campaigns, working with hundreds of community groups educating for sustainability.

What I’d like to talk about today are my experiences as a director of a community-based organization, Hawai`i Interfaith Power & Light (HIPL). As director of HIPL, I created community engagement programs and outreach campaigns to address the needs and problems of islanders at the intersection of Faith and Sustainability. Basically, we designed programs encouraging churches and temples to green their behaviors and benchmark their footprint. We offer to help them recruit and train interns who can offer energy efficiency educational workshops to their faith communities.

I’m also a recent graduate of HPU’s Global Leadership and Sustainable Development program designed to specifically educate & train it’s graduates for leadership roles, such as climate change communicator, organizational change consulting, or a chief sustainability officer position. The GLSD program offers innovative internships for interested students to gain experiences in Hawaii’s energy, food and policy arenas. Internships are designed for those students who desire practical leadership experience. A semester-long sustainability internship serving an organization within the island community can be selected when choosing your classes at registration. Students meet weekly with the professor to discuss assigned readings related to the nature of their internship.

Yet, when you are considering an internship, have you asked yourself, “If I approach this organization, what qualities will they be looking for in an intern?”

One characteristic is enthusiasm. But, being bubbly isnʻt the most important characteristic of an intern. My main question to prospective interns is, “How you manage your time commitment?” For example, if you wanted to intern with my organization, I’d might ask, “How much time do you have to commit?” A typical answer I hear is usually, “How much time do you want me to commit?” Iʻd respond, “How much time you realistically can commit is of greater interest to me.”

silhouette-774835_1920You see, I know that you are interested in doing good, after all helping others is the hallmark of an optimist – you’re an optimist, right? So, you’ll naturally want to say, yes, to however much time I request because humans habitually “over-promise and under-deliver. (Op-Ud)”

Now just imagine if you did the opposite. What do I mean by that? What if you took the opposite approach to “Op-Ud.” The road paved with underpromise and overdeliver has the potential to change the way you present yourself to others. It can even reduce conflict.

What do I mean? Let me tell you a story. Some years ago, I was working on a proposal and wanted to promise a technology not quite proven and refine it as we went along. My leadership mentor nixed my idea with an admonition to “Under-promise and Over-deliver.” UpOd significantly reduced the potential for conflict over the course of that project. It has been a guiding light for me in business since then. I never forgot it—“Under-promise and Over-deliver.”

An internship is one of the best ways to enhance your professional credentials and gain valuable experiences. If you’re selected for an internship, are passionate, and create a positive relationship with the organization by being responsible and responsive, under-promising and over-delivering, you’ll gain much in return. You’ll gain a friend or a colleague who may be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. And, you probably know that personal recommendations are quite important to your career.

So, the next time someone asks you how much time you can commit, or when you can deliver a product or program, I suggest that you be ruthlessly realistic—not optimistic. “Underpromise, Overdeliver”

Try it out.

You’ll be more valued because people around you will believe you are a miracle worker.

Give yourself some slack—”UpOd.”

Now, that’s what I’m talking about!

Questions? Answers? More posts by the author.
If you like my posts—even if you don’t—why not contribute to helping spread the word?
Thanks in advance for caring and sharing this post on your social media sites
For more stories, visit




Leave a Reply