Joint Degrees do the Summer: 2014 Edition

by Caroline Goodbody

As I quickly approach the end of my second year of the joint MBA/MEM program here at Yale, my mind naturally turns to summer. Long summer days, BBQ’s, and warm weather are all things I ache for after a tough New Haven winter.

This year has been just as rich as my first first – my classes have been challenging, I’ve gone to incredible talks, and my classmates have pushed me to think in new and different ways. Summer provides unique opportunities to take our new skills and apply them in real world settings.

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Prospective students often overlook the role that summer can play in designing your own curriculum and the great way it can be used to leverage an opportunity in a field that you are interested in.

As a joint degree, I have two chances to try something new. Last summer I worked at the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund on a project increasing corporate water efficiency. In the coming months, I’ll be working for GE in its renewable energy division. I’m excited to work on another issue that I care about, but also to get taste of the private sector and put my hard-earned MBA skills to work. Not to mention all the backpacking and cycling I’ll get to do in the nearby Adirondacks.

I am far from the exception at Yale. The summer experiences of my fellow “Jointies,” are just as exciting and I think they reflect the diversity of my classmates’ interests as well as the utility a joint MBA can provide.

Several of my classmates will put their MBA finance skills to work at firms dedicated to investors seeking financial returns with lasting social and environmental impact. Meaghan McGrath and Heather West will focus on conservation finance and investment strategies. Meagan will head to San Francisco to work at Sonen Capital, where she will support the private markets team with an emphasis on environmental investment strategies. Heather West will be working for Beartooth Capital in Bozeman, Montana to continue her interest in conservation finance strategy and impact investment. Thomas Selby will take a different approach at Prelude Ventures, a VC firm that supports technology innovation to reduce global CO2. He will focus on what makes winning cleantech companies.

Other classmates will follow their passion for improving corporate sustainability and developing lean operations. David Emmerman has a long-term career goal to work in energy management and sustainable operations in the technology sector. This summer he will be working for Amazon as an MBA Operations Manager where he will experience first hand how one of the most efficient operations systems in the world works on the back end.

Yale is also a great place to pursue your entrepreneurial interest. Joint degrees Jeff Woodward and Sarah Smith will continue to work this summer on their start-up Sage, a smartphone app to motivate people to choose fresh, whole grain, and organic food through scoring and competition.  If all goes well, the app will be finished by the end of the summer. As joint degrees, both Jeff and Sarah know the skills learned at Yale will be fundamental to running Sage. Just as important, both share values about how a business should be run. “For instance, we’re planning to incorporate as a benefit corporation, which codifies our commitment to a social and environmental mission in our legal structure,” explains Sarah.

Finally, I have classmates who will put their knowledge to use in developing solutions to public sector challenges. You will find Robert Kimball at Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia this summer, helping the Appalachian Trail think strategically about how it manages its complex network of partnerships. Desirée Lopes will return to Brazil for the World Cup and to consult for Forest Trends, developing a microcredit product for small farmers and potentially designing a private investment fund focused on environmental and social outcomes. Desirée believes that having a joint degree distinguishes her from her peers and gives her “credibility for being part of a select, frontier thinking group. With this credential and network, I that I have the ability of connecting with really interesting people doing very relevant work, all over the world,” she says.

With over 40 joint degrees who split their time on opposite sides of Sachem Street, this handful of students and their summer plans embody so many reasons I feel lucky to be at Yale. I just can’t wait to hear everyone’s stories in the fall.

Caroline Goodbody is a joint degree MEM/MBA student in the class of 2015 at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and School of Management where she is interested in the energy-water nexus and coming up with business solutions to environmental problems. She received a B.A. from Williams College in Political Economy and Environmental Studies.

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