Sep 25, 2018

My Summer with a Mission-Driven Consulting Firm

They told me I’d be working on multiple engagements.

“Two or three,” I thought. “Four would be pushing it, right? No way it’ll be any more than four—that’s too much to juggle.”

Five full engagements and 10 weeks later, I am ecstatic to be back to the understated quiet and measured pace of New England academia.

All joking aside (my summer was great, for the record), my time at Next Street Financial, a mission-driven consulting firm with a focus on small business lending and community investing, was a full-to-the-brim learning experience. While working on five projects was at times, hectic, doing so allowed me to get exposure to a broad range of Next Street’s impactful work, with clients ranging from large financial institutions like KeyBank and JP Morgan, to private foundations and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) like the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Opportunity Fund, respectively.

Moreover, while I walked into the summer with only vague notions of what consulting looks like on-the-job, working on multiple projects provided ample opportunity to (with the aid of patient and competent colleagues) refine my project management, storyboarding, ThinkCell, Powerpoint, Excel and other consulting-relevant skills. The first few weeks were a struggle as I juggled the day-to-day work and practicing new skills to get my bearings, but I ultimately found my stride by the middle of the internship. 

And with that, in the course of just a summer, my work came to include:

  • Identifying new state geographies for expansion of a Hispanic and lower-middle income focused $50M/year truck lending program for a CDFI client
  • Analyzing potential CDFI lending partnership opportunities for a national bank with an increase of $100M in Community Reinvestment Act lending requirements in 2018
  • Conducting analysis of national and greater Austin community investment ecosystem for a major foundation

I was able to work on projects with depth and breadth in large part due to the small size of the firm—Next Street only has about 10-15 associates on its consulting / advisory team across three offices. While I was an intern, I was working shoulder to shoulder with the full-time team to advise our clients.

Moreover, it was a privilege to work with the Next Street team, comprised of incredibly intelligent individuals recruited from a range of top universities, consulting firms, and financial institutions—and, more importantly, all driven to leverage our skills and knowledge base to create positive outcomes in underserved and low to moderate income communities in the U.S.

In summary, I came into the summer looking for an opportunity at the intersection of consulting and social impact. I got more than I bargained for, and at the same time, exactly what I needed.