MBA summer internships are a time of great discovery, validation, and inspiration – and the Fuqua Summer Internship Fund (SIF) enables students to learn about the rewards and challenges of social sector management without making a significant financial sacrifice. (Related, SIF also enables organizations who otherwise could not afford MBA interns to benefit from their experience.) We asked some of our SIF recipients from summer 2021 to share highlights from their experience and what they are excited to bring back to the classroom at Fuqua.
Meg Rudy, REDF Farber Fellow
This summer I worked with Tech Dump, an electronics recycler and refurbishing company based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities that employs persons with histories of justice involvement or addiction. In my first year of business school coursework, I’ve learned the nitty-gritty mechanics for capturing, creating, and measuring financial value. As a REDF Farber Fellow, I found myself applying many of these skills in my 10-week consulting project, while also rediscovering types of value that are too often underestimated, overlooked or misunderstood in the traditional business world: the value of truly inclusive communities, decision-making centered on what matters most to us, the hidden talents of a worker getting back on his feet, and the full potential within all of us to make change. I am headed back to school with new skills and a renewed drive to leverage my business toolkit to bring out the value that is often overlooked or underestimated.
Pierce King, Clean Energy Ventures MBA Summer Associate
This past summer I had the pleasure of interning at Clean Energy Ventures (CEV). CEV invests in early-stage climate tech companies that each have the potential to reduce 2.5 Gt of CO2e emissions by 2050. What I enjoyed most about the internship was the exposure I was given to the many different aspects of venture investing. At CEV, I worked on projects related to thesis development, screening/sourcing, investment diligence, and portfolio support. Interestingly, these four areas also follow the typical lifecycle of a venture investment (albeit without an exit at the end!). I’m excited to share my knowledge of impact venture capital investing with my fellow Fuqua classmates, and hopefully inspire them to pursue similar paths towards fighting climate change.
Madeline Kardos, Friday.us Strategy & Design Fellow
This summer I interned for the social impact consultancy, Friday, which specializes in branding, strategy, and design for social enterprises and nonprofits. I supported these organizations through the following ways: first, creating a sense of community within their teams so they will function more effectively; second, developing and aligning around internal capacity needs and corresponding impact goals; and third, identifying areas of opportunity and creating strategic visions for the next three to five years. I’m excited to use what I learned by approaching problems strategically and flexibly, as well as to think bigger and listen closely to clients and their needs.
Dechen Lama, NC IDEA Summer Fellow
This summer, I worked with NC IDEA, which supports underrepresented founders in the startup space. A lot of what I learned was simple but meaningful insights about entrepreneurship and startups. I learned how critical customer discovery is early in the process for founders. I also learned how many founders are sometimes too focused on fundraising to raise capital, when often the key to success is honing the product/service and growing sales.
Will Slap, BlocPower Finance Associate
As the finance associate at BlocPower this summer, my role entailed a wide variety of responsibilities – and the business and analysis skills I’ve learned at Fuqua thus far proved invaluable. Fuqua’s Business Computer Applications 2 gave me the skills to build a dashboard that educated the business development team on the sources and permitted uses of project capital, and thereby empowered them to make decisions without needing to consult with the finance executives. Understanding financial modeling and knowing how to read and analyze financial statements allowed me to begin evaluating and pricing deals my first day, and support underwriting efforts throughout the summer. In addition to operations and project support, I was the lead author on both a loan application to the Department of Energy as well as a response to an RFP to electrify the building stock of a city in upstate New York.
There are many lessons I will take forward from my summer with BlocPower, primarily the value of an ambitious vision and the importance of strategic flexibility. The company’s core business is developing and executing energy efficiency retrofits in low and moderate income (LMI) communities. This is hard. The executive team sets incredibly ambitious targets each quarter and is on track to achieve them. Supporting this ambitious vision is an opportunistic stance. The senior team keeps a close eye on the shifting policies and incentives both federally and in their state and local markets. At every opportunity they push for more generous LMI incentives and lobby for increased access to climate resilience in these communities. When new opportunities arise the team quickly coalesces around a plan and executes. While at first this struck me as chaotic, I saw how the flexibility allowed for quick and decisive action and, in the public-private space, being ready to jump in and shape the conversation is vital.
Danielle Tarnvik, Ørsted Power Marketing & Origination Intern
My summer with Ørsted was fantastic. I got to explore a new function of the renewables industry, working on financial contracts (PPAs) for corporate and utility customers buying renewable energy or credits. I also led the build-out of a dashboard for the US onshore team, giving insight into the company portfolio and market trends for wind, solar, and storage. Coming back to Fuqua, I have a deeper understanding of the relationship between financing and the development process for renewable energy projects. With the entire year of elective courses, I’m excited to explore more areas of finance before returning to a developer.
Vishrut Chatrath, Morgan Stanley Sustainability Intern, Real Assets
The summer internship gave me insight into the world of sustainability at a bank. I worked with a team to develop and implement an ESG policy for a private credit fund. It was crucial to understand how ESG can be incorporated into the decision-making process from due diligence, through acquisition and subsequent asset management without impact transaction timelines. My biggest learning was how to communicate effectively with senior stakeholders.
Anna Hofmann, Apex Clean Energy Business Development Intern
At Apex I worked on offtake agreements for wind, solar, and storage projects. I was excited to see the growth in corporate buyers of renewable energy as more companies set sustainability commitments and grateful that I could work on projects that helped them meet these goals. This experience has already influenced my perspective in my project finance and energy classes at Fuqua this fall because I understand the challenges renewable energy companies face as they build out these projects. It has also been interesting to discuss renewable energy deals with my peers at Fuqua who worked for financial institutions this summer and sat on the other side of these deals.
Jeff Mainwaring, NC IDEA Summer Graduate Fellow
As a Fellow with NC IDEA, I was able to both see the innerworkings of an incredibly impactful organization and work on consulting projects for the startup companies they support. This summer exposed me to all aspects of the challenges early stage Founders face on daily basis. Through my projects, I was able to assist these entrepreneurs with a wide range of issues such as marketing strategies, competitive analysis, and investor engagement. This was an amazing opportunity to gain unique insight to the fast-paced world of startups.
Ashley Finke, Maiden Home Product & Merchandising MBA Intern
My summer internship took place at a start-up that was self-funded by a woman founder and is already profitable. I was excited to take the skillset that I had built in consulting and at Fuqua into a dynamic, fast-paced growth environment at a startup and use that skillset to meet strategic needs of the business. This experience inspired me to start the FoundHER’s Challenge at Fuqua this fall — there are so many startup businesses doing exciting work and they often don’t have the resources to do the work to answer high-impact questions. The FoundHER’s Challenge pairs teams of MBA students with women founders to tackle some of those big problems and provide recommended solutions. While this was the inaugural year of The FoundHER’s Challenge, we had over 20 teams of MBAs sign up to participate. This program was only possible because SIF funded me to be able to work at a startup this summer. Thank you, SIF!