Summer Volunteer Consulting Report – Summer in St. John

Crystal clear 80 degree water, fruity rum drinks, and an easy-going way of life. These are the thoughts that come to mind when one thinks of the US Virgin Islands. I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of these accoutrements as I completed a cost accounting and business planning project for Virgin Islands National Park on St. John while employed by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). Since 1919, the NPCA has been the sole voice of the American people in the fight to safeguard the scenic beauty, wildlife, and historical and cultural treasures of America’s National Park System. During the summer with the NPCA, 29 students from leading business and policy schools worked under the Business Plan Initiative (BPI) in 13 National Parks across the country. The goal of the initiative was to work with park management to build sound business plans for the parks in order to facilitate better financial and operations management. With a complete business plan in hand, managers at these parks have a vehicle to communicate their funding needs to local politicians and on Capitol Hill in a more structured and articulate manner. The document will also serve as an invaluable data point for NPCA, as they continue their research into the funding history of the entire national park system. In addition, the business plans will be used as management tools for park managers in their strategic planning activities for the future.
Over the ten week internship, my partner and I were able to successfully complete the project to the great satisfaction of Virgin Islands Park Management. To better understand the activities associated with the operation of the park, we spent considerable time in the field with resource managers and other park employees on a regular basis. Whether it was excavating turtle nests or patrolling the waters with a park ranger, these experiences helped to make the internship incredibly enriching and fun. In addition to learning a significant amount about the natural and cultural resources of the park, I am now more knowledgeable about how the government appropriations process works, and how a chronic lack of funding in the National Park Service has forced park managers to clearly articulate their strategic priorities for the future.

For those of you who have not spent time in the Caribbean, I can vouch for the clearness of the water, the fruitiness of the rum drinks, and the easy way of living.

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Since 1982 the HBS Nonprofit and Public Management Summer Fellowship has provided financial support to current MBA students who choose to work in nonprofit and public sector organizations during the summer. This past summer, forty-eight students – a record number for the program – participated in the program.

Sponsored by the HBS Initiative on Social Enterprise and the Social Enterprise Club, the Fellowship is funded by the School and alumni donors. The program has three principal goals:

 To enable students to take jobs in nonprofit and public enterprises where their HBS training will provide significant benefits to the organization and the community it serves;

 To expose students to the rewards and challenges of public and nonprofit management;

 To enrich the HBS community and the quality of the MBA education by increasing the number of students with experience in the nonprofit and public sectors.