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Kresge summer intern pursues passion in finance and social impact

General Foundation News

Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga

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, Saria Nashef, an intern in Kresge’s Finance Department, discusses why he choose to spend his summer with the foundation, and what he hopes to gain from the experience. He also shares his experiences as a rising junior, studying business at the University of Michigan, and how his studies have brought him hope during the pandemic.

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

Saria Nashef: A few years ago, I was working at a sushi restaurant when I was a college freshman, and I met someone who used to work at Kresge – in either the Investment Office or Finance Department. He was a customer and was studying for one of his certification exams. I struck up a conversation with him. He told me about Kresge and to stay in touch. I was never able to reconnect with this friendly stranger. However, this year when I was doing my internship search, The Kresge Foundation popped up. I recalled the conversation. It just seemed so natural to me to apply. And the job description included all the things I was looking for in an organization – especially an organization with a social impact mission. The first couple of weeks at Kresge have been a great experience. It promises to be a rewarding summer and a place where I can learn a lot.

Kresge: You’re an intern in Kresge’s Finance Department. Can you share a few words about what you’re doing to help the department this summer?

Saria Nashef: Yes, I’m working on a couple of different projects with Nikita Miller, Kresge’s director of financial planning and analysis. One of the big projects is working on developing a spending model to predict how much the foundation as a whole is spending on a year-to-year basis. And then using some of that data to predict how our spending is going to look over the next couple of years, which I think is an exciting project.

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

Saria Nashef: Right now, I’m a rising junior at the University of Michigan, majoring in finance. I’m hoping to pursue a career in finance or investment, so it’s great to get experience with financial planning and analysis. It’s also great to work in a foundation setting and gain experience on everything from big to small things – like learning to communicate with a team. One of the biggest skills that I’m hoping to refine is my knowledge and use of software, like Microsoft Excel. I know that’s going to be useful in the future. So, I want to work on these skills at Kresge and then take them on to wherever I end up after college or next summer.

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

Saria Nashef: I’m hoping to pursue an internship in investment banking in New York next summer. At least that’s the goal right now. Beyond college graduation, I hope to eventually work in the social impact investment space. And this is what attracted me to Kresge – it’s social impact mission.

Kresge: That’s wonderful to hear about your interest in social impact work. I was going to ask you what attracted you to an internship in philanthropy?

Saria Nashef: I’m actually a part of an impact investment group at the University of Michigan. One of the big things that I liked about Kresge when I was going through the interview process was that it’s a foundation. All of its work is about social impact. Devoting myself to a social good mission was my motivation for applying to the college club and the same motivation for applying to Kresge. I really hope that somewhere down the line in my career, I can work for a social impact organization.

Kresge: It’s been an extremely difficult year and a half amid COVID-19. What’s brought you hope during the pandemic?

Saria Nashef: It’s been a really interesting year and a half. A lot of ups and downs. I’d say at the beginning of the pandemic, one of the things that kept me going was the excitement of getting accepted as a transfer student at the University of Michigan from Wayne State University. Transitioning into a new place with new people and new experiences and new opportunities has been super helpful and kept my motivation up – even if doing so virtually wasn’t always easy. Getting a fresh start and continuing my college career kept me going through the quarantine and lockdown periods. And now there’s optimism about hopefully more normalcy, as well as excitement about what’s to come over the next two years in college and beyond.