On Friday November 8th, a group of Notre Dame students boarded a charter bus headed to Chicago. Though the students’ ages, majors, and graduation dates varied, they all had something in common – an interest in what environmentalism and sustainability looks like in corporate America. Their first stop was at Mackenzie Wood where ND class of 2000 alum, Luke Lewandowski, provided a somewhat chaotic yet very helpful summary of his professional journey thus far. Throughout his story, students would interject with questions about the industry and Luke’s personal experiences with it. Luke seemed to give three big take-away tips: how to differentiate yourself to employers, the importance of utilizing the university career center services, and the power of reaching out to Notre Dame alumni. Though Luke probably could have shared advice for many more hours, the time limit hit and the group was off to the next company.
After a short walk, the students reached the next stop on the trek – Invenergy, hosted by Notre Dame Alum Connor Kobeski, '10. With a sleek office space design complete with bright accent colors, it was no question that Invenergy is a modern and upbeat company. The students were given a tour of the office space on the 18th and 19th floors of the building, containing project development and operations respectively. One of the most intriguing aspects of the workspace was the 24-hour operations office space which displayed continuous real-time data. After the tour, a panel of about ten employees talked about their experience with the company while answering any questions our students had. They described how Invenergy values intelligent driven employees that are passionate about the industry, giving their company a “fast and fun” culture according to recruiter Natalie Capriola. Employees also discussed how they don’t truly have a typical day as each day brings new projects and challenges. The panel’s biggest recommendations were to attend on campus conferences pertaining to industry-relevant topics, network with ND alumni, and to be curious.
Following the visit to Invenergy, the students and some Chicago ND alumni went to lunch together. Each table was a mix of students and alumni, allowing people to network and connect with one another.
The final stop of the day was Marathon Capital. With marble floors and a large, metal, abstract sculpture in the lobby, this building definitely caught people’s attention. Students rode up to the 18th floor where they met with a few of the company’s employees, including alum John Sexton, '18. The first activity was perhaps the most interesting. The employees gave students a paper with nine maps of the United States on it. Each map had a different color and dispersion of dots representing locations where certain fuel industries were most heavily located. The employees had students guess which map corresponded with which energy source and they also explained the logistics of finance, investing, and selling in the environmental industry. It was very interesting to hear how everything works, as many students found that they hadn’t really considered that side of the industry before.
This trek provided students with the opportunity to speak with environmental business men and women. Hearing about people’s different professional journeys and perspectives provided the students with valuable knowledge about the energy industry and its employees. Though it was a long day, it yielded invaluable experiences and I would certainly recommend the trek to anyone interested in this industry.