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10 in 7: Top Ten Highlights From a Week at SOM

SOM brings leading thinkers in behavioral finance and competitive strategy, a tight community of amazing MBA's looking out for each other and a powerful curriculum that integrates each classes learnings into a holistic perspective. But more than anything, I've been impressed by the access that SOM has afforded me. I was amazed looking back at my calendar from a week at the end of the fall semester to see the connections I had made over seven days (from the 8th to the 15th of December).

I felt like writing this to share because when I was deciding whether to apply to business school or not, I really wanted to know if I would get to have these conversations going to SOM. It seemed like a huge part of the value of going to school would be to be exposed to so many amazing individuals and at the same time something that was hard to get a clear sense of.

So here’s a few of my favorite parts of my week.

Monday, 2 p.m.: Call with my alumni Mentor. This is a program that opens up SOM’s phenomenal alumni network and gives you the opportunity to build a really strong mentor-mentee relationship with two alumni. My call is with the Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, the largest democratic caucus in the House. She is super helpful in thinking about my career path since I'm thinking about working in D.C. for part of the summer. My background is in social enterprise (launching CoFED, a community food enterprise incubator) and I'm hoping long-term to do more entrepreneurship but connected to the public sector at a national or state level.

Monday, 5 p.m.: Meeting with the Dean of Yale's Green Chemistry and Water department. We’re talking about a project examining how water technology and management solutions from Israel might be useful in California’s Central Valley.  He’s the inventor of forward osmosis technology and perhaps one of the best recognized scientists in his field. He agrees to be my advisor for the project and gives me a few contacts to talk to in Israel and California.

Tuesday, 2 p.m.: Call with SF office of Third Sector Partners. They act as deal-brokers for Social Impact Bonds that help cities secure outside capital to address entrenched problems like homelessness or diabetes. Essentially, a bank funds a nonprofit to address the problem and then based on agreed benchmarks for success, the funders gets paid back with interest by the government if the intervention is successful. I'm looking at an internship with them this summer in San Francisco and they see a potential fit. A lot of my friends have been getting consulting and investment banking interviews, but most of the jobs I'm interested in for the summer won't be hiring until March, so this strong lead helps me relax a bit about the summer internship search.

Wednesday, 12 p.m.: Social Impact Lab, a weekly school “salon” focused on new issues in social enterprise. This one features former staff at Rockefeller Foundation and now an author, faculty at Columbia University and a leading expert in impact investing. I go talk to her after her talk and she is interested in following up since I'm working with the Yale Responsible Investing Coalition on a "Low Carbon" case competition this coming fall. The competition asks MBA’s to create a coherent set of metrics to structure low-carbon investing and evaluate the risk and return that a clean portfolio would have in their system. Margot has a contacts that might be great sponsors and judges.

Thursday, 5 p.m.: Event with the lead recruiter at Facebook. Fascinating. I enjoy hearing how she describes her career as a set of monkey bars, not a ladder. She also talks about how any organization will have a tiny bit too few or too many people for their work and Facebook always leans towards too few to keep the motivation and pace up.

Friday, 4 p.m.: Call with Mission Point Capital, a mid-sized Boston cleantech VC firm based around a family office. We talk about entrepreneurship and he invites me to submit a proposal to the family office to fund the research I'm doing on Israeli water technology and opportunities in California.

Friday, 6 pm: Call with the East Bay Municipal Water District Director (this is Oakland/Berkeley, my old county’s, water district). He gives me a ton of insights and contacts for what sort of critical water issues California is facing and connects me to a few board members at the major water agencies in the state.

Sunday, Noon: Video conference with 2 New Haven City Council members and the founder of Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (as well as Higher One, a huge university services provider start-up) planning to crowdfund several enormous murals at underpasses throughout the city—we are planning to get mayoral and state approval and during the call settle on a name—the Under 91 Project (for the 91 underpass)—and put up a website. Things are moving! I live right next to the underpass and am so excited this is happening.

Sunday, 2 p.m.: Classmates gather together to have a conversation about homelessness issues. Many people were deeply affected by the NYT article and we talk about our personal experiences and hear stories from folks who have spent a lot of time working at or being on the board of organizations addressing homelessness. A few of us want to think about how to structure a social impact bond for New Haven's homelessness issues and we agree to organize a trip to engage more of our classmates in the conversation by volunteering at a shelter.

Monday, Noon: Lunch with the head of Saint Anthony Hall Trust—it's the alumni association for a literary and social club at Yale that I'm a part of that has been meeting for over 100 years. He is excited about the Responsible Investing Coalition concept and also is close with David Swensen, the head of Yale's Investment Office and pioneer of modern endowment management. He will be a great source of support for the responsible investing competition and is also one of the sweetest, most generous people I've met. His father also went to Yale and was the only person to graduate after being expelled twice! He seems to know everyone at Yale and in New Haven and reminds me why being at SOM is so great. It seems to shrink the world to the size of a small college town.

Even during your first semester, being at SOM opens doors. I’m excited to come back in the spring and continue to build on all these projects and connections.