William Wallace (Class of 2020) - University Risk Management Intern

Growing up in Northern California, William was surrounded by national and state parks. During his youth, he spent a lot of time outdoors and participated in the Boy Scouts of America. As a Scout, William attended international events, including some in Switzerland. These experiences influenced his decision to move abroad and study at Franklin. 

In May, William graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies with an Emphasis in Science and Political Science. Prior to graduating, William combined his interests in the natural environment and politics during an internship at the US Department of Energy in 2019. He now works as Franklin’s University Risk Management Intern to assist the university in assessing the risk of various activities during Covid-19. In this interview, William describes his time at the Department of Energy, his current internship, and his experience at Franklin.

 

What is the last book you read?

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz.

Last summer, you interned for the US Department of Energy. Could you expand on your experience and how it compares to your current experience interning at Franklin?

The internship experiences have been surprisingly similar, in the way that they have been valuable experiences and enabled me to work on important projects that matter for the organizations.  At the Department of Energy, I had the opportunity to contribute to projects related to government contract oversight, while at Franklin, I am addressing head-on, pressing issues related to COVID-19.  One key difference at Franklin is my familiarity with Franklin and the independence I have to meet and work with many different groups of staff, faculty, and students. My role at the Department of Energy was more focused and internal to the Sustainability Performance Office.

Now, let’s get into it. Describe your internship experience thus far in 3 words.

Responsibility, challenge, and opportunity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented various new challenges in how the university approaches risk management. As the University Risk Management Intern, what do your daily tasks involve?

I am collaborating with Franklin staff and faculty to develop a variety of topics in selected areas of Risk Management. Much of what I am doing now involves documenting and gauging Franklin's risk exposure and readiness for fall, whether generally or in specific reference to areas such as Academic Travel. The work itself falls along similar lines to what Franklin has prepared me for by conducting research, interpreting documents, critically analyzing situations, scenarios, policy, etc., and formulating recommendations or otherwise drawing conclusions from these areas.

Did the COVID-19 pandemic influence your decision to apply for this internship?

Yes, absolutely. As a graduating senior during the height of the crisis period of COVID-19 (arguably still in progress at the time of this interview), it has been difficult to find secure career opportunities. Many work or internship opportunities are closing or otherwise being put on hold until further notice. The loss of these previous opportunities has been tempered by the opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge and skill through the Franklin internship. [This opportunity] will help me remain competitive as employment opportunities begin to recover.

Why did you choose this internship?

One special aspect of this internship is that it is very directly involved in addressing a contemporaneous challenge, as are some of the other internships. I am able to address professionally something that otherwise would be easily considered a personal setback… I am hoping to gain professional experience during a time that might otherwise have been considered lost.

Have you gained any skills or knowledge since you started your internship?

Rather, I have had the opportunity to hone skills that I have been developing over my entire Franklin career. Looking at risk management for the university, a lot of the most reliable information comes in other languages, such as Italian. I have been very pleased to have the opportunity to continue using language skills I have gained at Franklin and apply them in a professional setting. Additionally, I have had more independence in designing projects around my assigned areas of focus. 

Has this internship aided in your personal growth?

The internship opportunity has given me the very privileged opportunity during this time to stay relaxed about the future for a while longer… I am very grateful for the alumni mentor aspect of the internship because of the opportunity to talk to and learn from past Franklin graduates that have navigated these kinds of experiences before.

If you could define your Franklin experience in 3 words, what would they be?

Opportunity, exploration, and growth.