Breweries, Banjos, and a Blue Ridge Business Plan | Net Impact

Breweries, Banjos, and a Blue Ridge Business Plan

A highly selective summer program for graduate students, the National Parks Business Plan Internship (BPI) allows graduate students to gain business, policy, and management skills you can't get in the classroom, all against some of the most beautiful backdrops and culturally significant sites in the world. This post profiles one of our recent interns and his experience in the park.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Pacific Northwest transplant who came to the East Coast to experience living in a new part of the country. My second year just began at UNC Kenan-Flagler, where I’m pursuing my MBA in Marketing and Operations, with a focus on Sustainable Enterprise. Prior to moving to North Carolina, I was a consultant for a fortune 100 company in Seattle and relentlessly pursued all types of outdoor recreation, which made the National Parks BPI position a perfect fit!
 
Tell us a little bit about your goal for your work in the park.
The biggest challenge addressed over the summer was helping the park identify operational changes that would allow them to continue providing high-quality service even with increasing funding constraints. This involved analyzing the current financial and operational state, revisiting existing and establishing new priorities for the park, and coming up with scenarios to help the park proactively manage toward these priorities in a cost effective way. At the end of the summer, the park was armed with a full view of their current operations and suggestions on what aspects could be changed to address future budget challenges.
 
Tell us what it was like being in the park itself for your internship.
Living in Asheville, North Carolina, and working onsite at the park was an indescribable experience, but I’ll give it a shot. Between the incredible food scene, breweries, bluegrass shows, and outdoor recreation opportunities, Asheville has to be one of the most livable towns in the country. While the location wasn’t "in the park," my co-consultant and I had a great setup that allowed us to enjoy all the town and Park had to offer. In our first week, we traveled the entire Parkway, met the field staff, conducted informational interviews, and, of course, went on a couple of hikes after hours.

Throughout the summer, we took a lot of work-related trips to different places in the park – all of these trips honestly felt like mini-vacations. Aside from living and working in the park, the program’s training session was held at Yellowstone! While at Yellowstone, the cohorts got to engage in tons of social and outdoor activities while going through a detailed training program that prepared all of us for a successful summer. 

Tell us what you're taking away from your experience.
I committed to the BPI program because it was an opportunity to do something completely different than what I would have done in a more traditional MBA internship role. The fantastic people who comprised the cohort, the chance to live at a National Park, and, most of all, the opportunity and to make an impact on the sustainability of the country’s most coveted resources made the experience truly inimitable. I left the position with a tremendous general management and strategic consulting experience and developed a new appreciation for public service. 

Sounds like the best internship you've ever heard of, right? Get more details