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Recently graduated student bloggers Ali, Alex, and Aditi are wrapping up their stories for the blog.  First to report on the conclusion of her Fletcher experience is Ali.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was writing to you with excitement about the end of first year and my summer internship at YUM! Brands.  Today, I write with even more enthusiasm about the completion of my degree and my return to that same place.

Ali, final postFletcher has been a wonderful two years for me.  I’ve made new friends and colleagues; gained the knowledge and experience I need to transition to the private sector; accepted a fantastic job in my hometown; and completed a capstone project that took me back to Brussels, where my professional journey began.

It was interesting to end my Fletcher career back in Belgium, thanks to capstone research funding from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context.  During my spring break there, terrorist attacks at the airport and local metro station made international news that showed me Belgium is not the same place I lived before.  Its quirky citizens and hidden, lively bars have become more exposed to worldly cares.  Belgian companies are being acquired by international competitors; family brewers are innovating to stay relevant amongst microbrewers; and ISIS is launching a full assault on the country.  Just like the little country I love, I have changed and become more exposed to the world, too.  While many students at Fletcher dedicate their lives to careers abroad, I can’t imagine not using my new travels and knowledge to return home and create change from there.

At YUM! Brands, I’ll be working to explore the material impact of extra-financial environmental, social, and governance issues and to improve the company’s performance and transparency around them.  I’ll communicate proactively with key stakeholders, like investors, and use their feedback to drive internal change, as well.

Fletcher isn’t just a place for students desiring careers in governments and non-profits abroad.  It’s also a great training ground for people looking to transform the world of business right here in America.

See everyone back in Kentucky soon!
Ali

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Throughout their time at Fletcher, the Admissions Blog’s student writers primarily discuss their extracurricular lives, whether through student activities, internships, or the job hunt.  But I have been asking all the second-year bloggers to provide an overview of their academic work by creating an “annotated curriculum.”  As you’ll see from Ali‘s notes below, a lot of thought went into her course selections for the MIB program and, in the context of her other posts, I hope it will paint a picture of her curricular life.  (Note that (1) MIB students take an “overload” of five credits in two of their four semesters, and (2) Ali switched programs directly before starting her first semester.)

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Program Manager, Fulbright Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Fields of Study
Strategic Management and International Consultancy
International Business and Economic Law

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Investor relations and corporate responsibility

Curriculum Overview

I came to Fletcher to learn how to promote private-sector investments in international social and environmental initiatives.  As I prepare to leave, I’m confident I’ll be able to use my new corporate finance vocabulary and arsenal of corporate responsibility strategies, gleaned from the classes below, to do just that.

Semester One (5 credits)

Registering for Fletcher’s Strategic Management summer pre-session course was one of the best decisions of my Fletcher career.  Coming from Belgium’s public sector, I wanted to introduce myself to basic business concepts and arrive early to campus to give myself time to adjust.  I enjoyed the course material and MIB students so much that, by the time the Fall semester started, I switched from the MALD to the MIB program myself!  The Admissions team made the application/transition process easy, and my decision resulted in a more structured curriculum with the opportunity to take more credits overall.  I slowly strengthened my quantitative skills in the Corporate Finance, Accounting, and Managerial Economics courses similar to those found at most business schools, and supplemented them with two electives in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability to familiarize myself with the field.  These courses gave me the confidence I needed to assume leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club and begin networking with corporate responsibility professionals from Coke, Southwest Airlines, and other leading companies at the network’s 2015 annual conference.

Semester Two (5 Credits)

The second semester of my first year was full of more MIB requirements – marketing, regional studies, macroeconomics, and stats.  My regional EU studies course was particularly insightful because Professor Laurent Jacques is an EU citizen and provided a firsthand perspective of the political and business environment there.  Luckily, I still had room for two electives since this course and marketing were only half credits, so I took International Business Strategy & Operations and Lean Six Sigma, for which I cross registered at Tufts University’s Gordon Institute.  International Business Strategy & Operations was one of my favorite classes at Fletcher – I enjoyed working with classmates to make recommendations about where to invest in sovereign bonds, and I used the class paper I wrote about Brown-Forman’s internationalization opportunities as an incubator for my capstone project this year.  Lean Six Sigma is such a practical skill to have, and the Gordon Institute offered me a certificate for completion of the course.  Being able to cross-register between schools like that is an oft-overlooked Fletcher benefit.  Overall, I recommend taking five credits each semester the first year for MIB students because – even though it was stressful with internship hunting – I’m even busier spring semester this year!

Summer Internship
Global Sustainability, YUM! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), Louisville, KY

I was blessed with a wonderful summer internship at YUM! Brands.  Thanks to some networking and hard work, I landed a position on the Global Sustainability team, where I reported directly to the Chief Sustainability Officer on water stewardship and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) Investor Relations strategies.  You can read more about my internship here, so I’ll spare the details.  What’s worth noting is: I was able to transition to the private sector; after living abroad for two and a half years, I really enjoyed working at home; and I received my internship offer only a few weeks before the semester ended.  People spend most of spring semester at Fletcher worrying themselves away about internships.  Overall lesson: don’t do that to yourself!  It all works out in the end.

Semester Three (4 Credits)

Ah, the last year of graduate school.  It was time to take it easier with four credits so that I could pursue a part-time job.  I ended up obtaining a great position as an intern ESG analyst at Breckinridge Capital Advisors – a $22 billion investment advisor in downtown Boston.  You can read about how much I enjoyed breaking out of the Fletcher “bubble” to commute downtown and try my hand at investment management here.  I would definitely suggest waiting until second year to pursue a significant internship, though it was hard to balance with the intense set of Corporate Law classes listed above.  I was pleased with the classes used to fill my International Business & Economic Law concentration – especially Mergers & Acquisitions – but it was probably too much to enroll in them all at once.  Spread them out!  By my third semester, I was also winding down my leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club, as well, so I recommend throwing yourself into club activities and leadership roles in the first year while you can.

Semester Four (4 Credits)

In my final semester, I’ve chosen to enroll in a lighter course load with a capstone-based independent study course to give myself the time I need to continue interning at Breckinridge, apply for jobs, and complete a really awesome capstone project and report.  My internship at Breckinridge lets me solidify my new learning from graduate school, and applying for jobs has been a full-time job in itself!  Soon, I hope to return to my hometown in Kentucky to work for a company in the corporate responsibility or investor relations space.  My activities at Fletcher continue to keep me in touch with companies I’d like to work for – my colleagues from my internship at YUM! Brands will come to Boston in February for a Net Impact Career Summit I’ve helped plan — and my capstone project will send me back to Brussels and Amsterdam this month to do field research for my Brown-Forman business proposal.  It’s all coming to an end so fast.  I’m excited for what’s ahead, and I hope to finish the semester strong!

Ali, ski trip

Ali, second from right, on January’s student-organized ski trip.

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New students (the 2016 group of “Januarians”) have been participating in their Orientation this week, and continuing students will return on Tuesday.  Today, let’s hear from Ali about her extremely busy fall semester.

As winter break comes to an end, it’s hard to believe that I have only one semester left!  The fall was a whirlwind of finding balance between strengthening last year’s skills and pursuing new growth ahead.

My internship at Breckinridge Capital Advisors — mentioned in my last post — was definitely something new.  I expanded my terminology within fixed income investing; experienced work in a medium-sized enterprise; and familiarized myself with downtown Boston, which I’m sad to say that I (and many of my peers) didn’t do in my first year.  It was overwhelming to balance school with work three days a week, but I’m glad I made time to do the internship.  I’m constantly reminded that this is the last time in my life when I’ll be encouraged to learn as much as I contribute at work.  I’m excited to continue interning there during my final semester.

My law courses in Trade Law, International Business Transactions, and Mergers & Acquisitions were all new for me, too.  I can’t recommend taking three law classes in one semester without a legal background, but Fletcher’s law professors succeeded in pushing me and teaching me to think in a new light.  I’m confident my familiarity with corporate law will differentiate me from other job-seeking graduate business candidates and will help me in future executive corporate roles.

Ali (second from left) and Fletcher friends at the Net Impact conference.

Ali (second from left) and Fletcher friends at the Net Impact conference.

It hasn’t all been new, however.  I had a great time attending my second annual Net Impact conference in Seattle, WA, building off of last year’s experience.  It has been awesome to grow the club at Fletcher — we had five people attend the conference this year! — and to plan another fun semester of events, including an intimate speaker session with Talbot’s head of supply chain sustainability and a GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) certification workshop for students that will take place with Boston College’s Net Impact Club this spring.  A year ago, the second-year students passed the running of the club on to Chelsey and me, and now it’s fulfilling to pass it off to first-year students Ben and Harper.  I’m excited to see where they take it!

Stay tuned for adventures in my final semester, when I’ll return to Belgium over spring break with funding from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context to do field research for my capstone project!

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Time to wrap up the reports on summer internships.  Today, Ali tells us about her summer at YUM! Brands, a major multinational company that just happens to be located in her home town of Louisville, Kentucky.

When’s the last time you looked at a utility bill?  What about 20,000 utility bills?  That’s what I was doing this summer at YUM! Brands — the parent company for KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.

Ali and the ColonelIt may sound mind-numbing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the task.  It cut across key departments and supported answers to questions, including:

  • What is the role of a for-profit company in addressing global climate change and water scarcity?
  • How do we communicate with franchisees about sustainability and cost tradeoffs in the supply chain?
  • What’s the best way to collect and manage CSR (corporate social responsibility) data from places like the U.S., China, and Australia?  Are we only responsible for equity markets, or are we responsible for franchisee markets, too?
  • What do investors care about, and how does sustainability affect YUM!’s stock price?
  • Should investors and governments encourage utilities to standardize units, billing cycles, and other statement features, as they increase their corporate water and greenhouse gas accounting requests, too?

Under the guidance of the Chief Sustainability Officer and YUM!’s Global Sustainability team, I collaborated with employees from government affairs, foundation, supply chain, IT, investor relations, and more, to author the company’s WDP (water disclosure project) report; develop its water stewardship strategy; select a new data management system; and engage employees, investors, and ESG (Environmental, Social And Governance) research agencies, around YUM!’s sustainability efforts and their connection to its stock price.

I enjoyed my time at YUM!, and this semester, I’m continuing my work from there through my involvement with Net Impact and my internship at Breckinridge Capital Advisors, where I’m learning about sustainability from the fixed income investor’s perspective.

Breckinridge actively recruits Fletcher students, and I’m grateful that coming here for my degree gives me the opportunity to shift my career focus and intern in different settings than I’ve worked in before.

I’m looking forward to reporting more about the great and final year ahead!

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Ali started contributing to the blog last fall, and now, with two semesters behind her, she is pursuing her summer internship.  Today she describes how her internship plans came together.

The “first years” are done with our first year of graduate school!  It’s an exciting, sad, and anxious feeling — all at the same time.

We’re excited that we survived, and that we get to meet the new first years in the fall.  We’re sad that the graduates are leaving Boston, and we won’t see them as often anymore.  Finally, we’re anxious to succeed at the summer internships we’ve landed, most of which start in the coming weeks.

The latter subject is the topic of my final blog post for the year.  When I last wrote, I promised to update you on the summer position that Fletcher and Net Impact helped me land.  I’m happy to say I’ll be working with the YUM! Brands sustainability team in Louisville, KY (my hometown!) this summer — performing data analysis and reporting for the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and updating the company’s sustainability strategy with new goals and partnerships.  YUM! — better known as KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell — is facing a lot of industry-representative sustainability challenges right now, regarding its use of antibiotics, palm oil, and forest fibers, and I’m excited to help them develop innovative solutions responsibly.

Prof. Rappaport’s Corporate Management of Environmental Issues class, Net Impact’s new SolutionsLab series, and Fletcher’s alumni are three resources that have been useful to me in securing the position.

Prof. Rappaport’s class — offered in conjunction with Tufts’ Department of Urban and Environmental Planning — exposed me to many of the corporate challenges and trends that I discussed in the interview for my internship position.  Her class also provided me with multiple opportunities to expand my sustainability network.  For example, she invited a former UEP student who is now the Senior Sustainability Manager for DirectTV to speak to our class, and she allowed me to invite Walmart’s Director of Product Sustainability to speak to our class after I met him at a conference.

Net Impact’s SolutionsLab provided me demonstrable experience in food business issues with large corporate players like Monsanto.  Because Fletcher’s Net Impact chapter is an active network participant, we were selected to host the series’ first SolutionsLab event on our campus.  The event highlighted my ability to form and execute successful partnerships and was reported on 3bl Media just one day before a post about an upcoming Twitter event with YUM! and Triple Pundit.

Finally, as always, Fletcher’s alumni prove to be an invaluable resource.  When I found out I’d be helping YUM! with their CDP reporting, I sent a note to a Fletcher alum at CDP.  It turns out, there are multiple alumni there, and the YUM! Liaison at CDP is a Fletcher alumna, as well.  It’s nice to go into my internship knowing I have a broad network of support.

So, that’s it.  I’m off to my hometown to spend a wonderful and productive summer.

Thanks for following my story this year, and see you in the next.

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With a fluid community of students who are on campus for only one or two years, it is often possible for new members of the community to take leadership roles in the organization of their choice.  Student blogger Ali recently took the helm for Fletcher’s Net Impact chapter.

The last time you heard from me, I had just returned from the annual Net Impact conference in Minneapolis.  That was a few months ago, and a lot has happened since then!

After the conference, projects with several of the contacts I met came to fruition: A corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultant from VOX Global hosted a campus workshop on CSR consulting tools within the communications realm, looking at stakeholder mapping, the Global Reporting Initiative, and more.  The community relations manager from Southwest Airlines expressed an interest in receiving graduate assistance with partnerships along the airline’s new international routes, and is now sourcing that help through Fletcher’s Global Consulting class, taught by Prof. Tunnard every spring.  Lastly, a CSR analyst from Brown-Forman agreed to come speak at Fletcher’s upcoming Sustainability Conference, hosted by the school’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, and to meet with Net Impact members separately.

All these very exciting turns have been part of my pathway to becoming the new president of Fletcher’s Net Impact chapter, as the previous co-presidents head off to exciting beginnings — one to complete her dual MALD-MBA degree at IE Business School in Madrid, and the other to continue her independent research with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Mentorship and leadership transitions between first- and second-year students are an important part of daily life at Fletcher, since the school has an abundance of student clubs and traditions that need to be carried on from year to year.

My Net Impact experience was a highlight of my first semester, and probably will continue to be one throughout my two years here.  It allows me to work in teams with some of my favorite classmates to plan events; to contact professionals and create programming that empowers students to drive social impact; to develop leadership skills for my resume; and to connect with other Boston-area students to participate in Net Impact events with the broader national network.  I look forward to updating you when I discover what summer internship it helps me land!

Until then, I’ll leave you with a video of my favorite Fletcher moment in 2014: waltzing with MALD student Peter Worth in front of the Symperoper in Dresden, Germany.

It was our submission to Fletcher’s annual “Where The Hell Is Fletcher?” video.  Here’s a past version, which I highly recommend you watch!

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Today I’d like to introduce the first of our first-year Student Stories bloggers.  Ali is in the MIB program, but her path to Fletcher was not the typical one:  she is one of the very first students who have enrolled after applying via the Map Your Future pathway to admission. 

Ali (in purple) at the center of an MIB student picnic.

Ali (in purple) at the center of an MIB student picnic.

Three years ago, I heard about The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy for the first time.  I was an undergraduate political science major, interning with the U.S. Department of State — an institution loaded with Fletcher alumni — and applying to graduate school seemed like a good next step.  I was disheartened when the Admissions Committee told me that I was a good candidate, but that I needed more professional experience.  I excitedly, but begrudgingly, accepted a place in the school’s first group of students admitted through Map Your Future — a program designed for Fletcher-destined undergraduates who just need a bit more “something,” i.e. professional experience, international travel, language proficiency, etc. — and scheduled myself to begin in August 2014.

Halfway through my first semester at Fletcher now, I can’t imagine not having those two years of work experience at Fulbright Belgium, and life, under my belt.  My classes this semester are Managerial Economics, Corporate Finance, Accounting, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Corporate Management of Environmental Issues — topics I would have never chosen before I managed a program budget and realized the difference that the private sector can make in public and non-profit initiatives.  My friends include classmates who are two to six years older than me and are well-traveled veterans of big name organizations such as Target, Boren Fellowships, and Procter & Gamble.  I try to think about what I could have added to conversations with these people two years ago, and it makes me happy the Admissions Committee forced me to wait.

During the next two years, I’ll be taking a mix of business, policy, and social-impact driven courses to learn the hard skills that will hopefully land me a job in a consulting firm or private company, where I can promote sustainability and social impact from the inside out, and bring people from business, government, and non-profits to the same table.  This happens every day during lunchtime at Fletcher, so hopefully the goal isn’t too big of a stretch.

I got to practice these convening and networking skills at a recent exciting event — a Net Impact conference in Minneapolis, MN, where I met executives from top companies like Southwest Airlines, Brown-Forman, and Starbucks, who already consider their companies’ social impact.  I’ve read cases about their companies’ business decisions in many of my classes already, and it was exciting to discuss the situations with them in person.

Career transitions between sectors are a common story at Fletcher, and I hope that Map Your Future students like me will soon be, too.  I hope you enjoy reading my journey with these experiences over the next two years.  Maybe I’ll meet some of you during your admissions interviews soon!

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