Summer in Washington DC / Alexandria VA

June 21, 2007

Hello SOM Blog readers! I'm on week 3 of my internship at the United Way, loving the DC area, and enjoying my transition from ibanking (pre MBA work experience) to the nonprofit sector. Indeed, I couldn't ask for a better summer experience so far. The United Way is a little more corporate than I expected, though I suppose it isn't terribly surprising given how large the United Way is relative to other nonprofit organizations. The degree of "corporate-ness" has also made my transition pretty easy, and I'm very comfortable with my group and the way things are done around here. The work that I've been assigned and the level of responsibility I've been handed has been challenging; and definitely different from the style of my ibanking days. Back when I was an ibanking analyst, I found the role pretty "task" oriented - I would be assigned little tasks and given a few days, and then I would check in. Upon checking in, I would get more work or refinements to my completed work, and the process would repeat again. Here however, things have been different. I've been given a massive project that will quite literally take the entire summer, and instead of having little pieces assigned to me, I've been asked to craft my own project plan and devise my own strategy of arriving at the final deliverable. In turn, I have a lot more freedom than I'm used to (which is good), but also a little challenging because now I have to approach my work with a much more balanced view of the big and small picture. (GASP! I have to use management skills instead of being a monkey!) But what exactly do I do at the United Way? Well, without going into too many details I'm essentially playing the role of a project manager, leading (and doing) a cross-organizational study led by the Center for Community Leadership (my group). The project has a particular focus on the financial and business model regarding the way training is done domestically by the United Way of America and local United Way organizations. Now that I'm a few weeks into my project, I'm currently digging into the market analysis portion of the assignment - specifically, figuring out some takeaways from the attendance of course offerings by local United Way organizations so far. Its been interesting to dig through data like which local UW orgs have been attending training, how large are the local organizations, who they send, what level of seniority are the attendees, that sort of stuff. All this work has also allowed me to dust off some old ibanking excel tricks to tackle the statistical analysis and so far my managers have been impressed with the weekly updates I've been giving them. I'm relieved that the combination of ibanking tricks and MBA learning is coming in handy in the nonprofit world. Outside of work, living in the DC area has been a lot of fun. Weekends are packed with events like tasty dinners with other summer associates and SOM students, bike rides or running along the numerous trails in Virginia and DC, shopping, and generally soaking in the sights and sounds of DC. Last weekend was particularly memorable, when a bunch of SOM students hit up Baltimore. While we were there we played tourist and explored the harbor, the various attractions, an Orioles game at Camden yards, and then of course the vibrant night scene. Though its only week 3 at the United Way the summer is definitely flying by. I hope everybody else is having a great time, wherever you are!

On Board a Boat At the Harbor in Baltimore

At Edgar Allen Poe's Grave somewhere in Baltimore

Another shot with at Edgar Allen Poe's grave

Orioles Game at Camden Yards... a Classic Stadium Indeed

4 SOM Students at the Ol' Ball Game


About the author

Patrick Ma