Interning at the International Finance Corporation

Stephanie Chen
This summer Stephanie Chen, MBA Class '19, interned at the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Read on to learn more about her time interning with IFC.

Tell me about your summer internship experience. Where did you work and what types of projects did you work on?

Over the summer, I worked at International Finance Corporation (IFC). It is the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group and aims to advance economic development by investing in for-profit and commercial projects for poverty reduction and promoting development. I was based in Washington, D.C. as a part of the Climate Business Department. My internship focused on researching and developing sector-specific metrics to monitor and assess IFC’s climate-related investments. Specifically, I prepared the Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) guidance for Investment Officers on the definition and potentials of CSA and the different metrics used to determine the climate-related impacts of the CSA investments. In addition, I also created lists of potential investments that are aimed to reduce postharvest food losses in India, China, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Côte d'Ivoire.
 
What was the most valuable thing you learned at your internship?

The most valuable thing I learned at my internship is the significance of being able to measure the social effects of social impact investment projects in addition to measuring their financial returns. Being able to quantify and evaluate social impacts of investment projects is crucial in assessing investment performances as well as considering re-investments.

Currently, there are no standardized methods and metrics to quantify various types of social impact investment projects and each organization is approaching the measurement of social impacts differently. When there is no consensus on what constitutes impact, it is difficult for investors to make decisions using social impact as a measure. As organizations consider more investments that have positive effects on communities and the environment, the need for standardized approaches to quantify and rank projects’ social impact grows. My work during the summer allowed me to understand this void that currently exists in the social impact investing space and how developing metrics to quantify social impact is crucial for motivating more activities in this segment of investments.
 
Did your summer internship experience change your thoughts about your career trajectory moving forward?

Definitely. Working at IFC allowed me to see the power of socially and environmentally responsible investments and the difference its projects are making for communities in emerging markets. My interest in the impact investing industry grew tremendously from my exposure at IFC and because of that I have enrolled in courses that would allow me to have more understand and gain knowledge. I have been shown that impact investing is a method to create scalable positive impact and therefore I hope to find a career in this sector, where I can make greater and more meaningful changes in the world.