October 21, 2016

Students of Questrom: PNP MBA Edition

2nd-Year MBA Candidate Danielle Valle Gilchrist Helps Dunkin's Foundation Rebrand
During the summer of 2016, Second-Year Full-Time MBA Candidate Danielle Valle Gilchrist interned at The Dunkin' Donuts & Baskin Robbins Community Foundation, just as the foundation's mission and focus were changing and they were in the process of emerging a new brand.  Joining the foundation during this important time presented an exciting challenge for Gilchrist, whose work during the summer helped facilitate this transition.   

When asked about the foundation's new direction, Danielle responded, "the foundation now brings simple moments of joy to sick and hungry children." She explained that in addition to having a partnership with a national food organization, Dunkin' Brands also supports children's health.  Her primary summer project was to benchmark children’s health partnerships with nonprofits and to make recommendations of which nonprofit organizations to partner with.  She credits her first-year Strategy and Marketing classes for giving her the tools needed to succeed in this role. 

Starting her internship on National Coffee Day, Danielle was one of four MBA interns to work in the foundation's Canton, MA headquarters during the summer.  While her internship required a lot of research, that research at times included field trips.  One day, the interns were taken on a tour of the Dunkin' Brands R&D lab, visiting the kitchen where new flavors of ice cream, coffee and donuts are developed and taste-testing as part of their work.  They also learned how donuts are made.

When asked about her biggest challenge during the internship, Danielle stated it was learning the corporate model.  As a Public and Nonprofit (PNP) MBA candidate, Danielle comes from a government background where everyone approaches problem from a similar mindset.  Having an internship in a corporate setting where there are multiple stakeholders and priorities reminded her that sometimes, obtaining stakeholder buy-in can be challengingShe now has an increased level of admiration for people in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) field who are able to navigate the challenges.    

Danielle planned her internship search early.  She knew she wanted to work in Corporate Social Responsibility, and not only is this niche field difficult to enter, there also aren't many structured MBA internships in the public and nonprofit sectors in general.  Leveraging her Questrom connections, she contacted alumni who are currently in the field and found out what they did for summer internships.  She learned that Dunkin Brands had already hired Questrom students for this particular internship, so she connected with Questrom faculty who were able to make important introductions to Dunkin' Brands management.  

What's next for Danielle?  She plans to enter the field of Corporate Social Responsibility after graduation, and this internship, along with her pre-MBA experience, Questrom MBA, and faculty and alumni connections, will undoubtedly propel her to success.

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