Student Club Profile: Energy Club
Entering an MBA program means two years away from the workplace. Students in the Yale SOM Energy Club find ways to remain engaged with their rapidly changing industry.
"All of us believe that energy is a truly exciting industry to work in," says Rakesh Shankar ’09, a co-leader of the club. "The complex challenges faced by the industry offer unique opportunities for SOM grads."
Shankar leads the club along with Wes Johnson ’09, Michael Sesko ’09, and Roberto Jimenez ’09. When Shankar and his colleagues became club leaders, he says, "We took some time to think through where we wanted to take the club." Shankar and his colleagues set a series of priorities, focused on strengthening the links between club members, fellow students, and the industry.
To that end, the club has organized trips, such as one to Millstone nuclear power plant in southeastern Connecticut. Club leaders worked with the West Coast and International Clubs to add energy companies to the annual West Coast and London Treks respectively. And in November, the energy club made its first-ever trek to Houston.
"Houston is the heart of the energy industry," says club member Saurabh Marda ’10, who went on the trek. Going there allowed the students "to understand more about the challenges facing the energy industry. It was a great learning experience."
In Houston, the students met with a range of companies, from giants like Shell to smaller alternative energy producers such as Horizon Wind, as well as an investment bank that works in the energy sector. Meetings ranged from introductions to the companies’ internship programs to more wide-ranging discussions of the state of the industry.
The Houston trek also included a get-together with some of the SOM alumni in the area — another priority for the club this year.
"We realized when we did some research that SOM has an extensive alumni network that reaches into every corner of the energy industry, be it oil and gas, renewables, power, energy finance, or energy consulting," Shankar says, "We initiated a process to reach out and connect directly with as many of these alums as we could." As a result, he says, several alumni have come to the club with job opportunities and advice.
The club has worked to help SOM students — both club members and others — to learn about the energy industry. "One of our goals this year was to increase general awareness and educational opportunities in the energy space," Shankar says. The club has developed a new newsletter, a redesigned website, and a delicious.com page that aggregates recent news about energy. On campus, the club has hosted talks by energy industry leaders including Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, and James Kinnear, former CEO of Texaco. Club members helped create an independent study class on energy project finance, and are planning a one-day workshop on energy project evaluation, led by an energy company executive, in spring 2009.
Club members have also reached out to fellow students on a one-on-one basis. Second year students mentor first-years interested in the energy industry. Last summer, Jimenez says, he gave last-minute advice to two classmates who faced energy-related questions in their internships. And club members frequently speak with prospective students who are interested in energy careers.
As they complete their studies and move into the professional world, Energy Club members say that their greatest resource is each other. "It is an absolute pleasure and honor to work with people as passionate and well-versed on different aspects of the energy space," Shankar says. "I look forward to working with these guys for the rest of my life in an industry we all truly care about."