Reflections from Beeck Center 2018 Summer Student Analysts

This post is part of our Student Summer Series, which highlights the perspectives of students working at the Beeck Center as they engage and explore ways to scale social impact.

July 25, 2018 | By Eunice Jeong, Student Analyst, Georgetown University Class of 2020 

This May, the Beeck Center welcomed ten student analysts for the summer. Our 2018 summer cohort includes both undergraduate and graduate students competitively selected from Georgetown University and beyond, all of whom bring a diverse set of strengths, experiences, and cross-disciplinary backgrounds.

This summer represents an important transition phase and planning period for the Beeck Center, and the new summer students are making an important contribution to the implementation of new strategies. Matthew Fortier, the Beeck Center’s Director of Engagement, explains that, “our students are playing a key role in helping us move from a ‘start-up’ to a ‘scale-up’ strategy. They are contributing across all day-to-day operations of the Center as well as supporting major projects and providing strategic input.”

What exactly does that entail, from the students’ point of view? To answer that question, we all got together after the midway point of the summer to share our thoughts, experiences, and reflections on working at the Center.

What was your understanding of the work of the Beeck Center before you started? What first drew you toward working here?

“I was drawn to the unique startup atmosphere of Beeck Center.” – Junaid Masood (Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy ‘19)

“I think that much of the future of social impact lies in the areas of data, tech, and finance. So, this summer, I wanted to see how I could fit in the social impact sector by working somewhere that specializes in it.”  – Orunima Chakraborti (Georgetown University, College ‘20)

What are some of the projects you’re working on this summer?

“I’m helping with research and editing for a project on Designing a Public-Private Partnership to Deliver Social Outcomes in a New Zealand corrections facility, as well as assisting with the  creation of a comprehensive database of pay for success projects.” – Showroop Pokhrel (Georgetown University, College ‘20)

“I’m working on several projects this summer. Most of my time has been spent on a data for social good project, that uses machine learning to identify factors across all urban areas that are correlated with poverty decline. I’m also supporting work related to Opportunity Zones, executive education, and a new engagement related to government use of technology platforms to deliver better social outcomes.” – Will Denison (George Washington University, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration ‘19)

“I’m designing outreach materials and coordinating with campus partners for upcoming Beeck Center events.” – Eunice Jeong (Georgetown University, School of Nursing and Health Studies ‘20)

What is something completely new you’ve learned by working here?

“As a student with a background in finance, it was really interesting to read about and do research on special topics that I didn’t get to learn about in my classes, such as impact investing and pay for success.” – Caprice Catalano (Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business ‘20)

“I came here with no prior experience in business or finance, and the work I’ve done so far has really taught me about the applications of those subjects in the social sector and government.” – Kevin Mersol-Barg (Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy ‘19)

“There are a lot of buzzwords constantly being thrown around at the Beeck Center [like “social innovation”, “outcomes financing”] that weren’t clear at first, but doing research and working on my projects has given me a solid understanding of their meanings and applications.” – Junaid Masood

“Nowadays, our society faces many challenges. In the past, private entities had one option to enable social change: Donate. Nowadays, new financial instruments, like Opportunity Zones, impact investing, and pay for success, allow us to do well financially, while doing good. – Itay Weiss (Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy ‘19)

How has working here been different from your past work experiences?

“Because of the flexible structure of the Beeck Center, we have opportunities to explore many areas of interest instead of focusing on one. I love both data analysis and communications, and here I am able to work in both.” – Rachel Wilder (University of Central Florida ‘18)

“We’re each entrusted with a variety of tasks which keep us busy, but at the same time the environment is really chill. The Beeck Center has really provided me with opportunities to express creativity in my work.” – Sudhanshu Sisodiya (Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business ‘20)

What have you found valuable about working here?

“Learning from the senior fellows and hearing about their work was really educational and helped contextualize the topics we’ve been researching. I also like that we’ve developed a good community with a mix of undergraduate and graduate students. ” – Kevin Mersol-Barg

“Working here gives us lots of opportunities to attend special conferences, speaker events, and networking events around DC where we can learn more about topics in social impact and innovation from experts and outside perspectives.” – Caprice Catalano

“The Beeck Center allows students the opportunity to take ownership of projects and see their contributions in a tangible way.” – Will Denison

What advice do you have for peers interested in working in the social impact scene or even at the Beeck Center?

“Since there’s a lot of flexibility and independence in this type of work, you have to learn to take initiative and reach out to your higher ups first. For example, the senior fellows are a great resource since they’re really open to talking and giving us new projects if we just ask.” – Showroop Pokhrel

“This field is very trendy right now and it plays for both sides. Do extensive research about the organization and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into and who are you working for.” – Itay Weiss

Photo Credit: Austin Seaborn. Pictured: Back row, L-R: Junaid Masood, Will Denison, Showroop Pokhrel, Sudhanshu Sisodiya; Front row, L-R: Kevin Mersol-Barg, Orunima Chakraborti, Eunice Jeong, Caprice Catalano Not pictured: Rachel Wilder, Itay Weiss