Social Enterprise 2004 Summer Internship Experiences

Name: Yeh-Won Hwang

Organization: National Park Service (www.nps.gov)
This summer, I worked for the National Park Service as a consultant in the Business Plan Initiative, which consisted of 26 MBA, public policy, and environmental management students placed at 12 different parks throughout the country. I was placed with two others at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park, located in Tennessee and North Carolina. Our goal was to complete a business plan that addressed the Park’s funding gaps and defined revenue generating and cost-cutting strategies to overcome these gaps.

In order to collect information for the business plan, we interviewed Park employees at all levels and defined operational standards in 38 program areas. We conducted a thorough assessment of the Park’s ability to meet their operational standards given the current level of funding for labor and non-labor needs, and identified the funding shortfalls. We also worked with Park leadership to define strategies that could be implemented in the short term that would provide additional revenue streams for the Park.

This was a great experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a love for the National Park Service! It’s an excellent opportunity to apply your business school skills towards supporting an organization with a great mission.

Name: Jerome L. Fernandez

Organization: The Big Issue (www.bigissue.co.uk)
Over the summer, I traveled across the Atlantic and worked with The Big Issue in Scotland. Recently awarded the UN Habitat award, The Big Issue is an international movement dedicated to providing the homeless with opportunities to help themselves through selling an award-winning magazine. The critically-acclaimed Scotland edition is currently undergoing restructuring and needed to reformulate its mission and vision and revisit its core competencies to better serve its stakeholders, more importantly, its homeless vendors and its readers. I participated in three different initiatives, which included the following:

  • A market research on homeless vendors to determine their satisfaction with the services that the Big Issue in Scotland provides them and to uncover other latent needs that could be addressed by new programs.
  • A benchmarking study with like-minded social enterprises all over the world, especially in the European Union, to determine best practices and to customize them to suit the needs of the Big Issue in Scotland.
  • An evaluation of current processes in the company to identify opportunities for standardization among all the different distributors and proprietary outlets of the Big Issue in Scotland.

I would say that overall it was a great experience. I was given independence and I was encouraged to initiate projects which I thought would benefit the organization. The most fulfilling part about my experience was being able to directly work with the homeless and understanding their complicated problems and being able to design programs that would hopefully be able to address their needs. Likewise, it was an enriching experience to be involved in an organization that is trying to turn itself around despite the continuous tension that exists at its core – that between the commercial and the welfare aspects of the business. I would highly recommend this internship to anybody who is interested in becoming involved with or setting up a social enterprise, as it definitely exposes you to the issues surrounding similar organizations.

Name: Ann Goggins Gregory

Organization: Public Allies, Inc. (www.publicallies.org)
Public Allies (PA) is a national Americorps program dedicated to advancing diverse young leaders through apprenticeships in community organizations. To accomplish its mission, PA operates a 10-month long leadership development program, which consists of (1) recruiting talented young adults from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds who have demonstrated a commitment to their community; (2) placing them in full-time positions creating, improving, and expanding services with measurable results at community organizations; and (3) engaging them in a comprehensive leadership education program which consists of weekly trainings, individual coaching, team-building, team projects, and critical reflection. I targeted Public Allies for summer employment because it fit so well with my goals a summer employer: I was seeking a national nonprofit with recognized national leadership and strong programs; I also wanted an opportunity to work with senior management on strategy. PA fit both of these goals perfectly.

As a Summer Fellow for Public Allies, I worked almost exclusively on strategic planning and loved the challenge of the work. I managed a cross-functional team of 10 (including management, board members, and HQ/regional staff) in analyzing current programs and operations. I worked with the team to develop strategies for improved programming and management structure. I also conducted a relative positioning analysis to identify niches for new programs and benchmarked Public Allies’ costs against peer organizations. At the end of the summer, recommendations made by the strategic planning committee were unanimously approved by the board of directors, so I had the opportunity to become involved in implementation planning. I remain involved with the organization through an independent study. Part of what made my summer with PA so rewarding and successful was timing – that is, PA’s needs were directly aligned with my interests and skill sets, which allowed me to make a large impact on the organization while being exposed to major issues facing many large nonprofits.

Name: Ron Y. Steiger

Organization: Chicago Public Schools (www.cps.k12.il.us)
Main Project: Led a project to transition overcrowded elementary schools from bussing to year-round education.
Responsibilities:

  • Developed & executed plan to implement four-track schedule, including selection of schools
  • Determined relevant costs and savings, and built financial model to find net cost of project
  • Created communication plans to market year-round education to schools, union & communities
  • Formed internal, central-office team to lead the project over the course of the entire transition

Name: Mina C. Kumar

Organization: ShoreBank
My internship was with ShoreBank’s “Mission Based Deposits” Department. ShoreBank has recently opened a “Nonprofit Service Center” in the loop, which is a branch dedicated exclusively to serving nonprofit clients. My job was to figure out ShoreBank’s current market share in the nonprofit segment, and to make suggestions on how to serve them better through “value added” services. During the summer, I conducted extensive market research on the banking habits and financial needs within the nonprofit market segment, including the design and implementation of a survey. I uncovered high growth potential within ShoreBank’s current nonprofit customer base which suggested a customer retention strategy, and demonstrated demand for loan products tailored for smaller nonprofits. I also performed regression analysis which indicated price sensitivity even amongst nonprofits whose mission aligned closely with that of ShoreBank’s community development and environmental banking mission.