Internship fund draws record donations

Business students who hoped toavoid Wall Street in their internships last summer had more financial support for their endeavors than ever before.

The School of Management Internship Fund, a student group that raises money for first-year master’s of business administration students to pursue summer internships in the nonprofit sector, announced last week that it raised almost $280,000 last year, more than in any other year in its roughly 30-year history. With this money, 33 of the 231 members of the SOM class of 2012interned at nonprofits ranging from art museums to government institutions. Program organizers said the internship fund both allows students to gain work experience while also providing useful business knowledge to nonprofits.

“These organizations can really gain a lot from having a student of business management look at their human capital and look at their finances from a very rigorous angle,” said Joerose Tharakan SOM ’12, co-chair of the Internship Fund.

Elizabeth McNamee SOM ’12, the Internship Fund’s other co-chair, said leaders of nonprofits sometimes do not realize how the business knowledge of businessstudents can benefit their organizations. She said she hoped the Internship Fund would help show organizations what they could derive from the “strategic, data-drive, analytic input” they might not otherwise receive.

Tharakan said even if organizations understand how business students could help with consulting and managing finances, they sometimes do not necessarily have the money to pay competitive wages to an intern who would only work for 10weeks.

Claire Ruud SOM ’12, who used the fund to intern at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said the Museum would not have been able to pay her without support from the SOM fund, though it was well aware of the benefits her background in management could bring to the table.

“If you’re working for somebody who doesn’t know what an MBA can do, it’s more work for you to educate them about you know how you can use a spreadsheet model to estimate the impact of a certain kind of programming decision on finances,” Ruud said.

Fauzia Dawood SOM ’12, who is on the Internship Fund committee, said she used fund money to intern at Endeavor, an organization that pairs MBA students with entrepreneurs in developing countries. Dawood said she worked directly with the organization to come up with a sustainable financial model for its office in Egypt — an internship position she said did not exist before she approached the organization. While she was able to work with the leaders of Endeavor to create the position, the nonprofit did not have enough money to pay her, so she relied on Internship Fund money.

McNamee and Tharakan said former SOM Dean Sharon Oster gave $25,000 to the Internship Fund after all first-year MBA students donated to the Fund. Some students who worked at large finance or consulting firms over the summer donated a day’s salary from their internships to the Fund, Tharakansaid. Additionally, SOM alumni donated nearly $40,000, and live and silent auctions in the school garnered over $50,000.

“We were looking over the finances of the previous year’s campaign and they had raised over $250,000,” McNameesaid. “We were sitting there shaking in our boots thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they had broken every record.’”

Though Tharakan chose to intern with Goldman Sachs this summer, she said operating the internship fund forced her to think in a way many nonprofits often do.With every dollar she and McNamee could spend on fundraising efforts, Tharakan said they had to consider whether that dollar would ultimately bring more money back to the fund.

In 2009-’10, the Internship Fund raised $256,070.

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