Interning at Natural Resources Defense Council

During the summer of 2019, Jessica Liang (MBA '20) interned at the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC). Read on to learn more about her time there:

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

This summer, I worked with the innovative finance team at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). NRDC is a main facilitator of the American Cities Climate Challenge. This 2-year challenge is a proactive undertaking to continue US’s contribution to the Paris Agreement after US’s exit in 2017. The various program partners work with 25 cities across the US to deepen carbon reduction goals and accelerate effort to tackle climate change for a sustainable future. The goal of my team is to provide support in financing options and mechanisms that are city and project specific. We help each partnering city understand the amount of capital needed and how to secure funding for its various carbon reduction initiatives. Among the 25 cities, the three deep dive cities I have been working closely with this summer are Boston, Charlotte and Washington D.C.

How did sustainable business practices play a role in your internship?

After we assist the cities establish how much investment is needed to achieve certain amount of energy savings to meet their carbon reduction goals, our team is engaged to provide options to close financing gap for these governmental projects. Each city has different funding and financing limitations for reasons such as legal obstacles, debt limitations or municipal preferences. Our objective is to provide a solution that is evergreen, a fund that can replenish itself as it continues to roll out new energy efficient projects, such as PACE financing or a green bank operation.

What were your top three learnings from your internship?

Other than working with and learning about innovative finance, particularly on the subject of green financing, and how to incorporate social cost in financial modeling, I also observed how passion is showcased at the workplace from very intelligent experts. People at the NRDC are not afraid of asking questions or proposing ideas even if there are more knowledgeable people in the room. Furthermore, people develop their own resources and manuals of knowledge, ready to be shared and be of benefit to whoever asks.

Did your summer internship experience change your thoughts about your career trajectory moving forward?

As summer concludes, I reflect on my experience at the NRDC. Seeing the art of strategic navigation of green financing from my team throughout the summer makes me wonder how innovative finance is used to impact other fields in social development such as poverty alleviation, human rights, and more. Working in close proximately with people who have dedicated themselves to the field of nonprofit, I made sure to observe how people have combined social impact and business into a successful career and I hope to find my own in my final year at Stern.