Apr 17, 2015

How Tuck Helped Me Succeed in the Non-Profit Sector

By Christine H. T'15

Christine is a second-year student at Tuck pursuing a dual-degree with Harvard Kennedy School. After growing up in Silicon Valley and obtaining a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, she spent her time as a management consultant at Bain & Company in San Francisco. Immediately before matriculating to Tuck, Christine consulted for the Gates Foundation and TechnoServe across East Africa. This past summer she interned with Acumen in Nairobi, focusing on healthcare and education investments. This coming summer she will be interning with the Asian Development Bank in Manila. She is also a dual degree candidate with Harvard Kennedy School’s master's in public administration program.

In a blend of perseverance, time, and Tuck’s deep expertise in the social impact space, I managed to land the very internship I wrote about in my admissions essay and was equipped with the skills to succeed in the role. However, it truly takes a village, and many facets of Tuck were instrumental in the process of getting me to where I am today.

Tuck's Career Development Office (CDO) has been a tremendous support system during my journey. Shout out to Lizzie Napier who was a champion for me for both my summer internships (as a dual-degree student, I have two summer internships to recruit for). During our initial meeting, I told her exactly what I wrote to Tuck almost a year prior—as an ex-consultant and international development worker, I hoped to gain more experience in impact investing. After a lengthy discussion, I left Lizzie’s office with a list of potential contacts and other opportunities. She continuously checked in throughout the years and made sure to help when she could. Just a month ago, on our Global Expedition trip to Armenia and Georgia, she personally introduced me to the regional directors and managers for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She has been a true mentor, and I cannot imagine having a stronger advocate within Tuck.

Speaking of the Global Expedition, I recently went on the trek to Armenia and Georgia. This trek was specifically focused on international investment in the region, and how financial and strategic assistance from America and others shapes development. We met with the ambassador, the U.S. Embassy, the Center for Disease Control, USAID, Deloitte, the chief of staff to the president, and other politicians and leading businessmen. It was a truly eye-opening experience. Not only did I bond with my fellow travelers, but I gained a greater understanding of the region and how politics impacts local citizens and businesses—a good foundation from which I can make more informed business decisions later in my career.

The Center for Business & Society with its various initiatives have also influenced my path. Its annual Business & Society Conference connected me with impact investor Nancy Pfund, Managing Director and Founder of DBL Investors, a VC fund that supports firms like Tesla and Pandora. A private dinner with her and my fellow BSC co-chairs proved invaluable in understanding how to raise money for impact funds and how to effectively create value in societies. Pat Palmiotto has also helped create independent studies that build my knowledge base, and as a fellow for the Center, I also have the opportunity to build my own initiative within Tuck.

Net Impact and specifically a T’14 who interned at Acumen previously played the biggest role in securing my internship. The Net Impact Club at Tuck has a mentorship program, and my interests aligned well with a T’14’s previous experience. She spent time looking over my resumes and cover letters, prepping me for the interviews, and putting in a personal word for me. There is no doubt that my internship would not have happened if it weren’t for her and Net Impact’s program.

And last, but certainly not least, the powerful alumni network. Though not as large as some other business schools, the Tuck alumni are extremely responsive—almost all respond within 24 hours, and everyone links me up with other folks to speak with. I can’t speak enough about the alums that have gone out of their way to tell me about their experiences, meet up for coffee, and vouch for me.

I’ve run out of space here, but other parts of Tuck that helped me succeed include my current classmates, rofessors, and coursework. But really, to fully describe how each aspect supported and campaigned for me, I would need the space of a novel! Nonetheless, I hope this helps others understand my journey, and how I could not have done it without being at such a supportive school.