And We're Almost There

August 11, 2009

Unlike nearly all of the other incoming students at SOM, I’ve been here in New Haven for nearly two months now. Shortly after submitting the final grades at the high school in Monterey where I taught English, I packed up my life and flew across the country to begin my internship at the Center for Business and Environment at Yale (CBEY). The position has afforded me the opportunity to both research a subject—Environmental, Health and Safety Management—relevant to my new career direction and acclimate to my new home before the start of the school year. After eight weeks of scouring financial documents and CSR reports from a number of the largest companies in the world—Wal-mart, GE, Dell, and BP amongst others—I can confidently wade through the corporate lexicon. The results of my work have been discouraging at times; in many respects, companies are only becoming better at talking the sustainability talk. Nevertheless, the increasing transparency is promising, and I tend to believe the adage that ‘what gets measured gets managed.’In addition to my EHS research project, I’ve had the chance to contribute to strategic thinking at CBEY. Participating and presenting at a recent strategic planning meeting—attended by Faculty Directors Dan Esty and Brad Gentry and led by Program Director Bryan Garcia—was easily one of the highlights of my summer. As I’ve explored the New Haven area—spending my mornings in Blue State drinking coffee while my Cuisinart made its way through the byzantine postal network, waiting in an interminable line to get a taste of one of Pepe’s famous pizza pies, becoming unhealthily familiar with IKEA’s big box layout, watching fireworks over the wharf from atop the architecture building, earning second place at Anna Liffey’s trivia night—I’ve been fortunate to get to know several of the rising second-year students who are also working in the area. With the bustle of moving behind me, I’ve even squeezed in a few calls to students pursuing internships further afield, but closer to my own interests. Ever since my first contact with an admissions ambassador over a year ago, I’ve been routinely impressed by how responsive and welcoming SOM students are. I’ve come to know that what I would have previously thought exceptional—from a second-year scheduling a lunch meeting on the day of his final presentation to my admissions interviewer digging through his recently packed boxes to find the name of a local tailor—is par for the course at SOM. Ultimately, it was this cohesion and community that led me to decide to spend my next three years here. Though I could certainly use a few extra days to wrap up my final reports and tie-up various loose ends, I’m eager to begin even if I'm not quite as prepared as I'd hoped to be. As my fellow classmates have finally begun filtering into the area, it’s been nice to reconnect with familiar faces from Welcome Weekend and meet many other colleagues for the first time. Even with the small—and, perhaps I will learn, statistically meaningless—sample of people I’ve met at the various informal get-togethers over the past week, I’ve been struck by the breadth of my classmates’ experiences. And while I suspect that being amongst the sea of new faces at orientation tomorrow may in fact be a bit disorienting, I think that’ll be half the fun.

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Brian Cope