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Stacia L. Wood Summer Grant (SISG) 2023 Experiences

ACES was pleased to facilitate the award of the Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grant to six deserving MBA students so that they could pursue internships with a focus on social impact and sustainability.  Learn more about their experiences in the summer of 2023 below.

Susheel Kumar BB

Susheel Kumar

This summer I had the privilege of interning at the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) as a Technology Commercialization Consultant, thanks to the support of the Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grant. The SBTDC aims to support entrepreneurs and small business owners through training, counseling and resources.

My role centered on conducting market research and engaging with potential clients for innovative virtual human body models that are revolutionizing personal protective equipment (PPE) design and testing across industries like automotive and healthcare. This work directly impacts the SBTDC’s social mission by helping advance technological solutions that improve health, safety and quality of life.

The internship aligned with my career goals of becoming a Technology Consultant by building critical skills in market analysis, strategic planning and communicating technical solutions to industry needs. I gained invaluable experience understanding how tech innovation intersects with and serves societal welfare.

The grant was instrumental in enabling me to fully engage in this rewarding internship. By alleviating financial constraints, I could dedicate time to contribute impactfully to the virtual human body model project and its far-reaching societal benefits.

This internship gave me the opportunity to utilize business skills to drive meaningful societal change. With the support of the Stacia L. Wood Grant, it was truly an invaluable experience in preparing me for a career leveraging business and technology to catalyze positive transformation.

Rex Chauhan

Rex Chauhan

This summer, I had the privilege of interning with NC Growth, a dynamic consulting think tank engaged in fostering community development through strategic advisory services. During my internship, I was involved in diverse projects, ranging from operational excellence to conducting a hotel feasibility study, all with a central focus on enhancing community well-being.

One notable project was centered on developing a town’s economic development model in preparation for a federal grant application. I played a crucial role in devising a resource allocation strategy. Another impactful initiative involved conducting a hotel feasibility study at a key tourist destination in North Carolina. Recognizing the absence of significant lodging options, the proposed hotel aimed not only to meet a crucial need for tourists but also to become a sustainable income source for the local community.

As a prospective management consultant, this experience has broadened my problem-solving perspective and equipped me with crucial insights for navigating complex challenges. The Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grant has been instrumental in providing crucial financial support that allowed me to fully immerse myself in the internship without concerns about day-to-day expenses. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity, which has not only facilitated my professional growth but has also eased the financial aspects of my summer commitments.

Madeline Llonch

Madeline Llonch

Over the summer, I interned at 3Degrees, Inc. as a sustainability consultant in their Energy and Climate Practice (ECP). 3Degrees works with companies and organizations to help them reach their renewable energy and decarbonization goals through various services, including carbon credits, utility partnerships, and climate consulting.

I worked on two projects focused on emissions accounting to help companies determine their carbon footprint and develop a plan to reduce those emissions. One project focused on supplier engagement for scope 3 emissions, and the other focused on financed emissions- how financial companies can measure the emissions from their investments. These projects gave me insight into businesses’ challenges in implementing sustainability goals and the complexities in data collection, quality and stakeholder engagement.

I did my dual degree between the Nicholas School and the MBA because I wanted to pivot my career to help companies reduce their carbon footprint. This internship allowed me to try out this exact role as a sustainability consultant. I couldn’t have asked for a better internship! It complemented my coursework at UNC Kenan-Flagler and allowed me to get hands-on experience implementing solutions.

Sustainability is an industry of passion. The compensation is lower than in traditional consulting or finance roles. However, the flip side is that you’re working with intelligent, passionate and driven people, all working towards making the world a better place. The SISG grant provided me the financial flexibility to try out this type of role, making me realize that sustainability consulting is what I want to do in the long term.

Thank you so much, ACES, for your help and support! I had the best experience this summer, and the grant gave me the breathing room to focus on work I was passionate about rather than the compensation.

Jacob Groden

Jacob Groden

This past summer my internship was with Hamilton Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm focusing on investments in the Proptech (Real Estate Technology) space. It is a small and entrepreneurial firm which was founded during COVID-19. Hamilton Ventures has a special interest in investing in companies which help with climate change and decarbonization as well as those with focus on affordable and accessible home ownership. To date Hamilton has invested in a company which specializes in helping navigate the LEED process (an environmental impact designation for real estate construction), a tenant screening platform that helps those with non-traditional income sources (for example gig work) and a utility focused platform which aids consumers in finding affordable renewable energy solutions.

My work added to the social impact of the organization in a few ways. The first was that I did research on potential investment opportunities within numerous different impact verticals such as decarbonization/disaster prediction and management. Additionally, I helped close some of the deals mentioned above which had environmental and social impacts.

My internship helped to propel my career goals and will serve me well as I look to attain full time employment in the venture capital industry. It helped me not only to learn more about what the day-to-day work in venture capital was, but also gave me a strong platform for my networking efforts which are imperative for industry success. Additionally, I was able to speak with numerous founders which helped served my goal of potentially founding an enterprise in the future.

The grant allowed me to participate in an opportunity I would not have had the financial bandwidth to participate in before as the pay was below market. This combined with the increased cost of education would have made it difficult to accept this opportunity without help from the SISG. The grant gave me the ability to successfully complete my internship and provided me the necessary experience to be considered for full time industry roles.

Deepshikha Shekhar

Deepshikha Shekhar

I am very thankful for being selected as the recipient of the Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grant. This generous support significantly impacted my ability to pursue a valuable internship experience, and I am truly grateful for the financial assistance provided.

Over the summer, I had the privilege of serving as a Technology Commercialization consultant at the Small Business Technology Development Center. The focus of my work was on an early-stage technology company based in North Carolina. As a consultant, I was deeply involved in developing strategies to propel the technology company’s growth and enhance its market presence.

The internship presented a unique opportunity to contribute to the social impact of the organization and the project. By working with an early-stage technology company, I played a role in fostering innovation and technology commercialization for USDA Phase II. The company’s products have the potential to bring about positive change in the healthcare, agriculture and sports industries, creating job opportunities and contributing to the economic development of the region. Being part of this process aligned with my commitment to supporting initiatives that have a broader societal impact.

The experience gained during my internship has significantly advanced my career goals. I was exposed to the intricacies of technology commercialization, market research and business strategy. This hands-on experience has deepened my understanding of the intersection between technology and business, aligning perfectly with my career aspirations. The skills acquired and the insights gained are invaluable assets that will undoubtedly shape my future endeavors in the technology and business sectors.

The support through the Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grant was instrumental in enabling me to fully immerse myself in the internship without the financial burden that often accompanies such experiences. The grant covered my living expenses, allowing me to focus wholeheartedly on the responsibilities and learning opportunities presented by the internship. This financial assistance relieved me of any concerns about meeting day-to-day expenses, ensuring that my energy and attention were directed towards making meaningful contributions to the technology company.

The Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grant has not only helped me navigate the financial aspects of my internship but has also reinforced my dedication to contributing to projects that bring about positive change.

Amritha Sundaresh

Amritha Sundaresh

My internship at Cosmic Eats, a pioneering startup based in North Carolina, was an exhilarating journey of innovation and strategic exploration. As a company that won a grant in NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge in 2021, Cosmic Eats is at the forefront of developing advanced food production technologies. Their focus on creating systems for growing plants, algae, and fungi that positions them uniquely in both specialized and commercial markets.

Cosmic Eats, with its revolutionary approach to food production, aims to solve critical food supply challenges in space and military contexts. Their production system, comprising three modules for cultivating plants, algae, and fungi, is designed for environments where traditional food supply chains are impractical. Initially targeting space and military markets, the company recognized the potential in commercial sectors and embarked on an ambitious plan to expand its reach.

My role was to develop a market strategy that would introduce Cosmic Eats’ high-protein mushrooms and spirulina to the commercial market. The challenge was immense, given the market’s ambiguity, with unknown competitors, unclear customer needs and no established benchmarks. My work involved in-depth market analysis, identifying potential customer segments, and understanding the competitive landscape. This strategic positioning was crucial not only for the company’s successful market entry but also for establishing a sustainable food solution that could have a far-reaching social impact.

This internship was perfectly aligned with my career aspirations in strategic roles. It allowed me to apply and significantly expand my knowledge and skills in market analysis and strategy development. Reflecting on my previous experience with the school STAR project, I found that the challenges and learning at Cosmic Eats deeply enriched my understanding of strategic planning in a real-world, high-stakes environment.

The Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grant played a pivotal role in this journey. It provided not only the financial support necessary to dedicate myself fully to the internship but also the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to an innovative project. The experience gained through this grant-supported internship was invaluable, both professionally and personally, allowing me to make a tangible impact while pursuing my career goals.

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