Nicole Austin-Thomas, MBA 2021

Summer Consultant Intern at The Bridgespan Group

The Bridgespan Group aspires to fund Black-led education nonprofits by catalyzing giving in the Black community. This Summer, Nicole supported the creation of a Black, Women-led philanthropic collective by stewarding the strategic sourcing of partners and collaborating with the team to codify and scale the structure and donor activation plan. The goal of this engagement was to move the needle from concept to execution.

Nicole’s experience this Summer was 100% virtual, which presented a host of opportunities and drawbacks. She notes that working from home in a petite 1-bedroom apartment with her partner was tough, but one of the best parts of a virtual internship is the high degree of introspection it allows: “I learned a lot about my ‘Why’ and what balance looks like.”

The highlight of her internship was a fireside chat with her fellow intern the managing partner and co-founder Jeff Bradach: “The whole office listened in as we reflected on our experiences and personal journeys from the Summer. It was a memorable capstone to a memorable internship.”

Sagar Doshi, MBA 2021

Summer Associate at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

This Summer, Sagar supported data analytics and strategy on the K-12 Education Team. “The foundation is constantly trying to understand various ways it can measure awareness outside of traditional surveys for certain topics of interest. My summer project involved developing an investment impact report and various strategy recommendations for a portfolio of 4 grants, totaling $2.5M. The grants focused on optimizing the foundation’s plans to measure and evaluate awareness capture using artificial intelligence and text analysis. Additionally, I co-managed the launch of a COVID-19 relief education technology investment ($2M) in higher education.”

The global pandemic and has re-worked aspects of K-12 Education strategy and for Sagar, adapting to the changes was his biggest challenge: “The foundation worked heavily this Summer to adjust to school reopening plans, the political climate, and how equitable we can be in our decision making for awarding grants – it is impressive to see how business models shift quickly when needed.”

The highlight of his Summer was becoming friendly with his fellow interns: “The foundation had over 40 interns across various departments, and, although we never got a chance to all meet in Seattle as originally planned, we packed the summer with game nights and happy hours to get to know each other and build on our unifying passion for social impact.”

Sarah Hilmer, MBA 2021

PR Communications Lead, Corporate Responsibility at Intuit

This Summer, Sarah admirably prioritized her mental-health and her loved ones: “I took a long break from school and worked remotely on a ~7 week RV trip with my family– socially distanced of course! We went to 21 states, visiting 8 national parks, and made it all the way to the southern tip of Florida and back. The amazing moments were numerous, but highlights of the journey include a run-in with a bear in the Smokey Mountains, 150+ miles of hiking with an almost 4 year old, seeing family in the Midwest, and swimming in Crater Lake.

Sarah reminds us how vital it is to take time for ourselves. She emerges from this Summer energized and ready to tackle the final year of her MBA.

Adam Joseph, MBA 2021

Brand Strategy Management Intern at LinkedIn

Adam facilitated two core projects this Summer as Brand Strategy Management Intern at LinkedIn. First, building an internal ‘insights library’ to provide the brand team centralized access to siloed research and insights and second, researching LinkedIn’s executive audience and generating an original set of insights and ideas to better support them.

Navigating the throws of a large company presented challenges for Adam during his experience, but is grateful to have found “sherpas” within LinkedIn to help him find the information and community he sought.

Despite the size of the company, Adam still had a conversation with the CMO– a highlight of his internship. “It was a fantastic way to share my work, learn about the future of the company, and humanize senior leadership.”

Hanna Ostapchuk, BS 2021

Project Manager at FerroKnife Startup

Despite the COVID pandemic, Hanna had an eventful summer of 2020: “Outside of school, I served on the project management side of a small team that completed two successful Kickstarter campaigns for a new line of item products. Additionally, I also took place in two career, professional, and personal development programs offered by HP and AT&T companies: HP Summer Scholar and ATTExtern respectfully. On the educational side, I am a part of the Hygiene Heroes ongoing research project. We are developing educational curriculums for children and their parents with a focus on how to prevent a spread of COVID-19 and promote COVID-19 vaccination in marginalized communities. Lastly, leading the policy team of Sustainable Housing at Cal (SHAC) student organization, I introduced and integrated the 4 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into Solars Decathlon project principles.”

While balancing many activities at once, Hanna notes that managing her time was the most challenging part of her Summer experiences. “I often felt that I didn’t have enough time to complete everything that I wanted and has to do. Ultimately, I balanced it out with perspective. Taking things one step at the time and sticking to the busy schedule of meetings, discussions, actual work, and building exercise habits.”

Michelle Sims, MS 2021

LandScale Graduate Intern at Verra

Over the Summer Michelle worked on the development of LandScale, an initiative led by Verra, Rainforest Alliance, and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance along with various global partners that assesses sustainability performance at a landscape scale. “I worked with the team to develop the second version of LandScale’s assessment framework. The framework comprises a set of indicators to track landscape sustainability across a range of dimensions, including ecosystems, human wellbeing, governance, and production. Ultimately, LandScale will help stakeholders involved in implementing landscape or jurisdictional management initiatives as well as companies sourcing commodities from or investing in landscapes to collect credible data for decision making.”

Arranging the data presented Michelle with an intellectual challenge. “When dealing with data indicators, finding the right balance between cost-effectiveness, representativeness, and robustness was the biggest puzzle. In many cases, landscape boundaries designated for the purposes of the LandScale assessment do not correspond perfectly to administrative boundaries making the secondary data that’s available irrepresentative at the landscape level. On the other hand, it can be prohibitively costly for those conducting the assessment to design and implement their own household survey. To find possible solutions to this dilemma, part of my work involved researching ‘off-the-shelf’ primary data collection tools and resources, as well as datasets that could be disaggregated to an appropriate scale.”

Michelle notes that while probing data was at times cumbersome she enjoyed combing through different datasets and researching the multidimensional poverty measurement for the human wellbeing of the LandScale assessment.

Remote Internship

Lauren Taymor, MBA 2021

Brand Management Intern at Danone North America

Lauren’s experience this summer was spend developing an innovation pipeline for Horizon Organic Milk’s single-serve business (milk boxes). “I analyzed the category trends, identified white spaces, developed new product ideas, and presented concepts with consumer positioning, pricing, and placement recommendations. While I didn’t directly get to work on a sustainability project this summer, my experience really affirmed for me how brand managers can influence the sustainability of a product from all aspects (ingredient sourcing, packaging, etc).”

One of the biggest lessons she learned was to let go of ideas when they’re not the right fit. “I had a few concepts and ideas I explored that I was really excited about but ultimately realized that they wouldn’t work at this time and had to let go.”

For Lauren, a highlight from the Summer was talking with the sustainability team to learn more about Horizon’s Next Frontier project and their commitment to go carbon positive by 2025. She adds that, “product taste tests were pretty fun too!”

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