1. 2016 Summer Fund Interns Learned by Doing

    September 26, 2016


    The 2016 Summer Fund internship program was a great success all around.  Students from Ross, Ford, School of Social Work, Natural Resources, and other programs developed their skills while helping mission-driven organizations in Detroit and around the world.

    Our co-sponsored Ross Open Road sent eight Ross students to seven U.S. states and nine organizations over a one month period.  Numerous other interns worked in organizations with strong social impact missions.  A BBA focused on his fish-food start-up in Kenya, while an MBA got the opportunity to create her own internship experience in her hometown.

    Below, we share snapshots of some of their experiences, providing a window into the broad experiences that Business Impact offers:

    Brianna Brazell, MBA/MS ’17

    • Organization: Avrec Art House, The Chocolate Conspiracy, The Utah House, Jed’s Barber Shop and Buzzed Coffee Truck
    • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
    • Project: Complete two-week engagements with six different social entrepreneurs

    My Experience: “I pitched my ‘internship’ to the Center for Social Impact and the Erb Institute at Ross, with the expectation that they would tell me to accept a standard internship offer and think of my future before doing something rash. Instead, they were energized by the idea and wanted to talk about the possibilities for impacting businesses, encouraging students to deviate from the norm, and reinforcing new ways of learning about social impact and sustainability. They supported me fully, and gave me the final nudge I needed to pack my bags for Salt Lake City.”

    Andrew Bean, MPP ’17

    • Organization: City of Detroit, Mayor’s Office
    • Location: Detroit, MI
    • Project: Increase the number and diversity of new contractors in the city’s demolition program.

    My Experience: “I learned a lot from my experiences this summer.  In the past, I have worked on political and non-profit advocacy campaigns.  This was my first experience on the “official side.”  Observing the way that policy options are considered and sometimes implemented firsthand was incredible.  It expanded both my knowledge of the policy-making process and my conception of acceptable job opportunities.  Additionally, I made many, many connections over the summer that I hope to build upon in the future.”

    Alexander Ho, MBA/MS ’17

    • Organization: Eastern Market Corporation
    • Location: Detroit, MI
    • Project: Aid in the establishment of a new branch called “Grow Eastern Market,” which aggregates local farms to institutes in the greater Detroit area.

    My Experience: “There is a lot to experience and learn when establishing a startup, I was involved in supplier, customer development, accounting, logistics, trucking, delivering…anything you can think of I had hands on experience. However the greatest takeaway for me is to learn more about the food scene happening here in Michigan, there is a lot of challenges for farmers to find sell all their produce, there are produce that are just growing and rotting in the fields because sometime their customer just bail out, or they are having trouble finding customers. This is a challenge that I want to help farmers overcome.

    I am now considering how should I continue this in my career path. The ability to help others overcome a problem is a valuable skill set, and the more we devote in helping others, the more we receive in the end.”

    Eric Katz, BBA ’17

    • Organization: Kulisha
    • Location: Kenya
    • Project: Develop Social Impact Track-winning social venture in Kenya.

    My Experience: “It’s really interesting visiting fish farmers who are struggling with the issues we’ve been reading about and seeing how our product can really change their business. However, for us a huge part of our impact isn’t completely visual because a major goal of ours is to replace unsustainable ocean based protein with insect protein.

    Things have been rolling very smoothly. Our pilot facility is now operating with the bugs in all life cycles and we’ve been growing them and scaling our production according to plan. Something that surprised me is just doing business in Kenya is a stark difference from business in the US and that took me a bit by surprise, but I adjusted and learned how to adapt my expectations.”

    Carolina Maestri, MBA ’17

    • Organization: United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
    • Location: Panama City, Panama
    • Project: Assist development of online platform, provide feedback on key product sustainability and project studies, identify co-funding opportunities, and develop key speaking points for sustainability and ecolabeling initiatives.

    My Experience: “Regardless if I will be working in the private sector, in a NGO, or in an intergovernmental agency, it is very important to understand how UN works. I better understood the United Nations programs, projects, career opportunities, fundraising, its role in developing policies, etc. Also, I am focusing in green economy/sustainable finance is my MBA studies, so, this internship helped me to understand UN methodology regarding these issues.”

    Kate Naranjo, MPP ’17

    • Organization: New Sector Alliance
    • Location: Boston, MA
    • Project: Guide strategy, communications, and building systems for Year Up national curriculum.

    My Experience: “The support from Business Impact helped solidify my interest in non-profit management and allowed me to gain invaluable experience at Year Up. Year Up is a revenue-generating nonprofit – the opportunity to learn from their unique funding model was critical to how I think about non-profit finance. As a member of the National Program Team, I worked on a change management project helping to better implement curriculum across sites.”

    Iris Nguyen, MBA/MEd ’17

    • Organization: Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies
    • Location: San Francisco, CA
    •  Project: Develop a strategic plan for the next five years of San Carlos Charter Learning Center.

    My Experience: “I came to Ross from the nonprofit sector and knew that I wanted to transition to a new career path, but I was unsure as to what I wanted to do. This summer was the ideal opportunity to explore consulting and I was excited to find an internship in social impact consulting. My summer experience at Third Plateau solidified my interest in pursuing a social impact career post Ross.

    If I did not receive the stipend from Business Impact, I most likely would not have been able to do the internship. Since the internship was located in San Francisco, the Center’s stipend helped to cover the high housing costs in the city.”

    Harry Wolberg, MPP ’17

    • Organization: Office of the Deputy Mayor of Detroit, for Economic Policy, Planning & Strategy
    • Location: Detroit, MI
    • Project: Research the city’s capital plan.

    My Experience: “I wrote research memos about economic, employment, and demographic trends and forecasts for Deputy Mayor O’Cleireacain. This research was used to develop a narrative about Detroit’s past, its current situation, and what these insights may hold for the future. My work culminated in a draft of a Strategic Framework for the City’s 5-year Capital Improvement Plan. This internship was an instructive experience about how local government offices work. I had the opportunity to work with high-level policy makers.”

    Allison Zimmerman, MBA/MPP ’18

    • Organization: Detroit Mayor’s Office
    • Location: Detroit, MI
    • Project: Implement the new policy initiatives around education and urban blight.

    My Experience: “It was exciting to work with the City of Detroit Mayor’s Office on strategic projects with the Jobs and Economy Team, the Detroit Police Department, and the Deputy Chief of Staff’s policy team. Any future work I do will require a strong understanding of local, state and federal policy-making. The highlight of my summer was learning about the city through the unique perspective of different departments and managers, as I worked with another team member to draft a strategy to more effectively combat commercial blight. Getting to meet and engage with so many different stakeholders was a professional development opportunity for me, and provided the City with a work product to be implemented in the near future.”


    For a complete listing of interns and their internships for 2016 and several years before, click here.

    For information on receiving your own student internship, click here.