Prior to business school, I served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. I deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait, serving in a rifle company. My Marine Corps experience taught me a lot about leadership, problem solving and mental toughness, but it did not teach me finance, marketing, accounting or how to run any sort of commercial business. Because I lacked the hard skills needed to transition into a successful post-military career, I believe it made sense for me to pursue an MBA.
Because I lacked the hard skills needed to transition into a successful post-military career, I believe it made sense for me to pursue an MBA.
Initially I was skeptical about finding an internship following my first year that would be as rewarding as leading a platoon of our nation’s most precious human resources. I never considered the other types of precious resources our nation has to offer – the natural and cultural ones. Fortunately, I discovered the National Park Service (NPS) Business Plan Internship (BPI).
>> Learn more about career and internship support for Full-Time MBA students
The mission of the NPS is to “preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Of the four federal land-management agencies, the NPS has the strongest conservation mandate.
With an annual budget of only $3 billion and a workforce of around 22,000, the NPS must make sound business decisions to effectively preserve 84 million acres and host 300 million visitors each year. Like any large commercial organization, the NPS has a slew of uncertainties and management challenges. As visitation rates rise, historic structures age and the budget remains relatively constant, the NPS must apply some creative problem solving to effectively accomplish its mission.
For 20 years, the NPS has brought together top graduate students in business, public policy and environmental studies to work on the most challenging business issues facing our national park system. Students are divided into teams of two to three and deployed as summer consultants to eight or nine of the 417 national park sites. Over the summer, students advise park staff and work on projects involving commercial services, fleet strategies, financial forecasting, workforce planning and business plans.