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by Aman Singh Das | February 01, 2011


It's only the first day of February and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has already received 250 applications for its Climate Corps fellowship program. With the final deadline (February 17) still a few weeks away, the final number is already the largest in the program's five-year history.

EDF started their Climate Corps fellowship with one MBA student in 2007. The program expanded to seven in 2008, and grew four times (26) in 2009.

In 2010, the team received a record 220 applications, of which 51 were selected for summer fellowships with companies like Yahoo!, PepsiCo, News Corp and eBay.

With the attention to sustainability, energy efficiency, and alternative energy having exploded in the past year, the Climate Corps team is, of course, happy to be inundated with applications. That's because these record numbers don’t just exemplify the program's success with the host companies, who benefit from the students' expertise and dedication. They also pinpoint a growing student body looking to pursue a career focused on sustainability.

After all, as Yale School of Management candidate Stuart DeCew (and 2010 Climate Corps Fellow) put it in one of his blogs, "Better data on an investment means a stronger case." For companies, this equals bottom line savings; for candidates, the opportunity to put their education to test, and hopefully, a long term professional relationship.

In a phone conversation, I asked Sitar Mody, EDF's Project Manager for Corporate Partnerships, to detail this year's application process. Key takeaways:

Candidate Profile

"This year, the applications seem to reflect more prior experience in sustainability, whether through a consulting business case through school, or a previous fellowship."

"A lot more career changers."

Top Schools

While most of the Top 30 business schools are represented, Yale, Duke and Michigan are the "strongest contenders for dual degree applications" with a fair share of MBA students as well.

Top Companies

"A third of the companies tend to repeat for a second year "

  • Confirmed: 34 companies offering fellowships
  • Expected: 21 companies, for a total of 55

"Some companies take on a couple of fellows."

Corporate Interest in Sustainability

"Many more companies are looking at their energy consumption."

While building on their success—and enrolling new companies—has become easier over the years, Mody acknowledged that when it comes to defining the business case for sustainability, the argument continues to "depend from company to company."

Job Hunting: Fellowship to Full time offers

"Last year, about half (from our post-fellowship survey) of the fellows had some kind of conversation to continue working with the company, whether that’s through part time consulting, project-based or full-time."

"The conversion has continued to increase every year. For example, Eaton has a very robust fellowship program and stringent recruitment requirements, so we are making sure whoever we place has a fair chance at the end of the fellowship."

Qualifications: Who Can Apply

"Prefer students after their first year of school"

Master's program, dual degree or an MBA


February 17: Final admissions

April 29: Fellows will be matched with companies

Facebook Likes Sustainability

A quick look at the EDF website shows 13 new companies listed for 2011, of the 34 that are confirmed. And the list represents players from all industries, including consumer products giants Avon, Dunkin' Brands, and Nestle Waters North America; consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton; health insurance providers Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana; technology giant Microsoft; banking champion JP Morgan Chase; as well as the company on everyone's mind these days—Facebook—which has signed on for three to four fellows.

Sustainability on everyone's mind? I'd say so.

For more information, visit EDF Climate Corps. To apply, see Become a Fellow.


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