Matt Schmitt '12

Internship: Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps/Royal Bank of Scotland

I joined the Army originally because I wanted to serve. I wanted to be a part of something greater. And I got that feeling from Yale.

In 2005, I graduated from West Point and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Transportation Corps in the United States Army. I served in Germany and Romania and was deployed to Afghanistan to work with the Afghan National Police in a logistics advising capacity. I got to a point where I started to look further down the road at my career and I decided I wanted to go do something else. Friends of mine were talking about an MBA, and I liked the idea of going to a place where I would spend a couple of years learning the language of what I might do afterwards, and not just making a switch, cold, from the military to the private sector. 

When I got Yale SOM's admissions catalog, there was a sense of service that other schools hadn't conveyed. I joined the Army originally because I wanted to serve. I wanted to be a part of something greater. And I got that feeling from Yale.

I was interested in some mix of energy and policy and business, and I saw that the percentage of a recent Yale SOM class that went into the energy sector was greater than any other top program in the U.S. This really spoke volumes to me. And I thought that the strong relationship with the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies would be really valuable to me.

I've also been able to take advantage of the variety of courses across the entire university. In my first year, I took Grand Strategy, a Yale-wide seminar that studies a number of classics and looks at strategic lessons that can be learned from the Peloponnesian War and fall of Rome, and by reading Clausewitz and Machiavelli and Sun Tzu. There was a wide range of viewpoints, from undergrads, students from the Divinity School, Architecture, International Relations, the Medical School.

My internship was as an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow with the Royal Bank of Scotland. I developed energy efficiency projects with RBS's head of sustainability—looking at numbers, looking at feasibility and scope. While I was going through the first-year core, I thought that Integrated Leadership Perspective did a good job of showing how many different ways there are to look at business problems, but it wasn't until my internship that I really understood what it meant to have an integrated approach. When I needed to find ways to cut costs at a data center, it wasn't simply a matter of showing people my spreadsheets. I had to approach decision makers with what mattered to them, and frame things in ways that were relevant to their interests. Crunching the numbers was important, but it was just the beginning.

Interviewed on April 14, 2011. Updated on January 30, 2012.

Matt Schmitt
Internship: Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps/Royal Bank of Scotland