Looking for interns to support research into the social dimensions of the energy transition!

28 juli, 2020

Are you interested in social innovation in the energy transition? And would you like to participate in EU projects (or write your master thesis) on this subject, under the guidance of our experts? Apply before 1 September 2020 to become a research intern at DRIFT.

For the EU-funded SONNET and TOMORROW research projects we are looking for two motivated master students to carry out research activities within these projects.

In the SONNET project you will support our research on social innovations in the energy sector in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg (Benelux). You help to investigate the added value and diversity of social innovation in the transition to a sustainable energy system. Currently we are conducting case study work in Belgium and the Netherlands and we are closely collaborating with the city of Antwerp.
As a SONNET intern, you will work on:

  • Supporting case study work on framings and discourses in energy transitions and finance and investment mechanisms in energy transitions. Your activities include collecting, reviewing and coding literature, collecting and analyzing examples, participating in and transcribing interviews.
  • Preparing and taking part in monitoring sessions with the city of Antwerp regarding their energy poverty activities
  • Reviewing, formatting and finalizing a database of about 500 social innovation in energy initiatives
  • Writing blogs and communicating your insights and analyses on the DRIFT website and social media channels
  • General research assistance activities
  • Supporting the preparation of a power lab that takes place in spring 2021. The power lab is a co-creation workshop about (countervailing) power in the energy transition.


For TOMORROW, your research will support 6 European pilot cities with the transition towards becoming low-carbon, resilient and more liveable cities. The cities will develop 2050 transition roadmaps together with citizens and other local stakeholders, and your research supports this, including the coordination and facilitation of the Energy Transition Learning Relay.
As a TOMORROW intern, you will be:

  • Supporting case study work (interviews, meeting notes) on the transition roadmapping processes implemented by TOMORROW cities;
  • Helping in preparation of targeted webinars about topics related to energy transition, transition governance and multi-stakeholder participation;
  • Writing blogs related to the activities of TOMORROW project;
  • Supporting the development of a transition toolbox to guide cities.
  • Preparing, supporting and facilitating the Energy Transition Learning Relay, a blended workshop in October combined with monthly webinars (between September 2020 and January 2021). Think knowledge-sharing, reading lists, prep materials and note-taking.

If wanted, you can combine the research internship with a master thesis, for example by using project data as an input for your research.
What DRIFT has to offer
DRIFT is a leading research institute in the field of sustainability transitions. We develop and share transformative knowledge that enables people, cities, sectors and organizations to actively engage in transitions. DRIFT has four core activities that complement, sharpen and inspire each other: academic research, advice, education and public dialogue & debate.
You will work with DRIFT colleagues partly at our office on the Erasmus university campus in Rotterdam, and partly outside the office, due to Covid-19. The office is a great place to meet the DRIFT transition researchers, consultants & educators, who are often quite friendly. We also have a pinball machine, where things sometimes get less friendly. We are strong believers in office lunches and drinks, and Covid-19 is pushing us creatively to find new forms to keep co-mingling and co-creating. 
You will have access to an internship supervisor with whom you can discuss the progress of your internship. It is possible to combine this research internship with writing your thesis, possibly with guidance from DRIFT (more details can be found here). With a full-time internship (40 hours per week), we offer an internship allowance of 500 euros per month (incl. travel allowance).
We’re looking for you. Yes, you!
If you’ve made it this far into this vacancy text, it’s likely that you:

  • Have affinity and experience with social innovation and/or the energy transition;
  • Are ambitious, critical and work carefully;
  • Are proactive, entrepreneurial and can work independently;
  • Are curious and not afraid to dive into a subject;
  • Can speak/write in English (Dutch is a plus, but not required);
  • Follow a Master study in social sciences, in the field of energy(transitions) and/or a related field.

There are two spots available from September 2020 onwards. We would like to have you on board for a minimum of 3 months for minimally 32 hours a week, but this is negotiable.
If you fit these requirements, please get in touch and become our new intern. If you are you unsure whether this is for you, don’t hesitate to contact Maria Fraaije for SONNET ( or Giorgia Silvestri ( for TOMORROW.
DRIFT strives to be an inclusive workplace
At DRIFT, we aspire to address injustices in our work on sustainability transitions and seek to be open and inclusive in our pursuit of understanding and fostering societal changes. Although this is not achieved overnight by simple adding a paragraph to our vacancies, we do want to stress that we strive towards being a diverse workplace in terms of education, income, political preference, gender, sexuality, culture and ethnicity. No matter if academia might feel like an ivory tower to you, and no matter if you feel like you don’t fit the picture of what a ‘sustainability researcher’ looks or talks like, DRIFT is open to your perspective and contribution.       
How to apply
Send your CV and a motivation letter to no later than 1 September 2020.
For questions about this research internship, please contact: