The coronavirus pandemic unexpectedly changed and challenged the way we planned to live, work, and learn in 2020. And internships are no exception to that. The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 22% of employers rescinded internship offers in light of COVID-19. The pandemic, financial crisis, and social justice movements have presented a challenging time for us. While vulnerable groups have suffered more than others during this distressing time. 

My peers at SIPA and I have very candidly discussed how we are struggling to reconcile the feeling that we are not doing enough, with the reality that under these circumstances, we are doing the best we can. Therefore, before I jump into highlighting my job experience over the summer, I’d like to acknowledge that our normal expectations to be productive at school or work are only secondary to our mental, emotional and physical well-being during this unprecedented time. 

After endlessly scrolling through SIPA’s online portal for applying to jobs and internships (SIPA Link), cold emailing, speaking to professors, virtually connecting with SIPA alumni, and submitting countless applications — I landed a summer associateship at The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). I was thrilled to land a summer job in a space I am passionate about, and within an organization I have long admired. 

At the GIIN, I am working with their dynamic Research department on measuring the financial performance of impact investments, conducting research on the impact of impact investments in agriculture and financial inclusion, and performing qualitative and quantitative analyses on how impact investors are responding to COVID-19. 

We recently issued our second brief in a series of sector first reports entitled “The Impact Investing Market in the COVID-19 Context”. This series of reports aims to deliver market intelligence on strategies and financing needs to impact investors. As impact investors are needed now more than ever to address the socio-economic consequences of this pandemic. This series of reports is being published in association with the R3 Investment Coalition, Ford Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Rockefeller Foundation, and Sorenson Impact Foundation.

Before my summer associateship, as someone who already has a finance degree under her belt, I found the Methods for Development Practice class taught by Professor Eugenia McGill instrumental in expanding my views on impact investing. The course helped me go beyond traditional financial metrics and apply key socio-economic frameworks to impact investing.

In addition to my summer associateship and the classroom, I have continually been able to engage with my passion for impact investing, SRI, and social finance after being selected to serve as an Advisor to Columbia University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing. In this role,  I advise Columbia University’s Trustees on ethical and social issues that may affect investments of the University’s endowment ($10 Billion), review selected shareholder proxies, and monitor the divest/non-invest lists for Sudan, tobacco, private prison operators, and thermal coal.

My time at The GIIN, SIPA, and Columbia at-large has opened doors to resources and opportunities to pursue my passions within impact investing and actively engage with the most challenging questions of our times that have been amplified due to the pandemic. During such challenging times, many SIPA students and I are being called on to serve beyond ourselves and actively engage with organizing, protesting, policy-making, researching, writing, and speaking out on the most pressing issues. And I hope we show up to do so!

Thanks to Ruby Khan, an MPA ’21 and M.S. Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences ’21 dual-degree candidate, for this post.