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Joint-Degree Students Share Internship Takeaways

Summer internships give MBA students opportunities to try out new roles, new organizations, even new sectors. For some students, these opportunities are doubled. Students pursuing joint degrees at Yale SOM and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies are at Yale for three years—so they have two summers to intern. They work on a wide variety of sustainability issues, exploring their career options and honing their skill sets along the way.

At a September 10 presentation hosted by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, a few joint-degree students shared what they learned last summer.

Eric Plunkett SOM/FES '15Eric Plunkett

Company: SparkFund, an energy-efficiency financing startup

"Leadership for a startup means a variety of skills. I found it interesting to see how SparkFund's four founders each fit a very different leadership style and a different function within the company. The CEO was very outgoing and charistmatic and was responsible for the big picture and fundraising. The COO was incredibly organized and logical and focused on day-to-day operations and process efficiency. The business development guy was a people person who focused on building relationships, and the CTO was analytical and managed everything on the tech side."

Michael Puckett

Michael Puckett SOM/FES '15

Company: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

"I learned that in a regulated utility, it's not the same environment as a profit-driven, private company. They're not necessarily about maximizing profit. They really have the amount of revenue that they can earn dictated by regulations. So really in a lot of cases what they're trying to do is minimize risk. My project looked across their 67 hydro facilities and tried to come up with basically an NPV of how much value each specific facility provided, and then looked at what we can do—whether it's improving efficiency or reliability or adding features to a partial facility—seeing what the business case could be for particular projects and then embedding this evaluation tool within their processes… We were able to take this tool and apply it to a few projects and pretty easily show that there's a ton of extra efficiency and extra value that PG&E is leaving on the table. We were able to leave them with a process and a product they can use to look at the way they're developing projects.“

Sumit Kadakia

Sumit Kadakia SOM/FES '16

Company: Big City Farms, an urban agricultural startup

"The big takeaway from my summer is not to be afraid to experiment. I had no background in agriculture. I was choosing between working for a venture capital firm for the summer in Boston or joining this agricultural startup down in Baltimore… It was a really tough decision: did I want to go to a firm that's fairly reputable that could lead to something in that same field in the future or did I want to go do something completely different? As a joint-degree student, we have two summers, which makes your first summer really risk-free. I decided to take advantage of this, joining the ag startup, and I absolutely loved my experience. So that's the takeaway I'd give to everyone. Even if you only have one summer here, the point is to try something different, to get to understand a different part of yourself. You have the rest of your career afterwards to hone in on your specific path. If you try something else now, you might end up loving it and changing the entire direction of what you do."