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From small island to global finance and philanthropy, Kresge summer intern explores investment world

General Foundation News

The Kresge Foundation recently kicked off the sixth year of its summer internship program after a break in 2020 due to COVID-19. Every summer Kresge welcomes a cohort of interns and fellows to work at the foundation for approximately 10 weeks. Internships are designed for undergraduate students, while fellowships are intended for graduate students. During their time at the foundation, interns and fellows are embedded within departments and work closely with foundation staff to experience what it is like to work in philanthropy as a grantmaker or as an operational team member. For summer 2021, Kresge has welcomed four interns to the foundation.

In this Q&A, Filippa Kolokotsa, an intern in Kresge’s Investment Office, discusses why she choose to spend her summer with the foundation, and what she hopes to learn from the internship. She also shares her experiences as an international student from a small island in Greece, currently studying economics and psychology as a rising junior at the University of Chicago.

Kresge: Why were you interested in applying for an internship at The Kresge Foundation?

Filippa Kolokotsa: My career advisor at the University of Chicago had great things to say about Kresge, so I looked into it and saw how the foundation does so many great things. Kresge’s work resonated with me. I grew up on a very small island in Greece, and I didn’t have access to many resources while growing up. So, I knew that I wanted to work for an organization making a difference – and one that would help me learn about finance and investments. The Kresge internship was the perfect combination – helping me to learn about finance while at the same time doing something good for the wider world.

Kresge: What in particular do you wish to learn from your Kresge experience this summer?

Filippa Kolokotsa: As I shared, I grew up on a very small island in Greece. Businesses there are mostly focused on tourism, namely restaurants and hotels. No one really talks about finance or knows much about it. I literally grew up thinking that Wall Street was a company. I didn’t realize until later that it’s actually a street with many companies. So, I really want to take a deep dive into the finance world to understand how it works because I honestly never had any exposure to it. More specifically, I would like to learn how a foundation endowment works and see if that’s something that I want to do in the future. Overall, my goal is to find out whether finance and investments is for me or not – to guide my next steps during and after college.

Kresge: Speaking of which, what’s next after your Kresge internship?

Filippa Kolokotsa: I’ll be a junior at the University of Chicago in the fall, but the timing for getting into investment banking is very tight, so I have already been involved in recruiting for next year. Right now, I have an offer to intern next summer with an international financial services company. But I haven’t fully decided if I’m going to take it, because, while I enjoy the hustle and bustle of finance and investments, at the same time, I don’t want to lose sight of relationships and people. I grew up in a small community, where we put a lot of importance on relationships and the people in our lives. I’m not entirely sure if the investment banking world is for me one hundred percent, but for now I’m looking into it.

Kresge: It’s been a difficult year and a half with the pandemic. What’s brought you hope during this time?

Filippa Kolokotsa: I am not going to lie. The past year was not that bad for me. When we were under lockdown, I kept thinking to myself that I wish this could be over, but I am now realizing that during that time I had the chance to develop very tight relationships with the people around me at the University of Chicago and not deal with insignificant and superficial matters. I was also motivated by the idea that it would be over at some point, and I would get to return home to Greece and see the beach and water. I was very fortunate to be able to go back home during winter and summer last year and see my friends and family. Right now, I am appreciating the good things that came out of the pandemic.