Nick Walsh ‘19

Finding His Path to Change the World
UNH environmental conservation and sustainability major Nick Walsh '19

Nicholas (Nick) Walsh ’19 is one of seven COLSA students selected to participate in this year’s Social Innovation Internship, which is offered by the UNH Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise. He graduated in May with a bachelor of science in environmental conservation and sustainability, with a dual minor in international affairs and French.

COLSA: Why did you apply for the Social Innovation Internship?

Nick Walsh: Over the course of my senior year I did a lot of job searching, and while I found many opportunities, I either felt under-qualified or not excited about the position. That is until I attended a COLSA job fair and met with someone from the Social Innovation Internship program. I figured I would apply so I had the option.

During the application process, I was asked to make a shortlist of the internship hosts I would be interested in working with. That’s when I realized that the concept of social innovation was really important to me.

I was offered a wide array of potential internship sites spanning many different fields. The Social Innovation Internship is allowing me gain professional experience while I figured out what career I want to chase after. I made the mistake of believing that my education was over once I graduated from UNH, and I'm glad I stumbled upon this program because now I get the mentorship and opportunity I need to jump start my career outside of UNH.

COLSA: Please describe your internship (company, title, responsibilities).

Walsh: I am currently working as a Client Services Intern at Prime Buchholz in Portsmouth, NH. They are an investment consulting firm that helps clients create portfolios that best match their interests and goals. As sustainability is becoming a common value, more and more institutions (like UNH) are looking to put their money where their mouth is.

I am responsible for speaking with the investment management firms that Prime Buchholz recommends to clients to determine how well they involve sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in their decision making. I use the data I collect to assign each firm an ESG score and create a write up in the Prime Buchholz database for future use. It’s exciting to speak with different investment management firms about sustainability as everyone in the finance world is eager to boast about how they're doing their part.

"UNH is one of the most sustainably minded universities in the nation. Being surrounded by such great advocates for sustainability who are all doing great things really pushes me to explore what more I can do."

COLSA: What are you hoping to accomplish during your internship?

Walsh: I hope I can use this internship as a professional launch pad. Before this internship I did not know sustainability-focused investing was a thing and now I get the chance to see it in action every day. After this internship I hope to gain the skills I need to get into a more permanent role involving ESG investing.

In addition to that, I get to spend time at UNH with the other social innovation interns (who are all rock stars!) and learn about what they're doing. Hopefully the more time we spend with each other, the more I’ll learn about what they do and potentially find another line of work I have a passion for that I did not otherwise knew existed.

COLSA: How do you think this experience will impact you?

Walsh: This experience has already impacted me greatly by exposing me to a new and exciting career. I think the experience will continue to teach me how much there is still left to learn even after graduation. As part of the Social Innovation Internship, we have guest speakers who are involved in sustainability come in to teach us about what they do. As someone who is fresh from college, the exposure to different career options I could apply my major too is much appreciated.

COLSA: What do the words "social innovation" mean to you?

Walsh: Social innovation, to me, is tapping into that inner drive we all have to improve the world around us. We all make up the society around us. I believe nothing is set in stone and everything is subject to change. That can be a scary but exciting prospect. Society moves forward when people feel the need to change the current paradigm to address big issues. Identifying and acting in ways to improve the lives of others by asking ourselves how the current solutions, or lack thereof, fail us is social innovation. It can take many forms and each one is just as important as the next.

COLSA: Other than your internship, how is UNH preparing you for a career that prioritizes sustainable social and environmental good?

Walsh: UNH is one of the most sustainable minded universities in the nation. Hopefully you already knew that, if you didn't, I have a lot of great literature for you. Being surrounded by such great advocates for sustainability who are all doing great things really pushes me to explore what more I can do. My last four years at UNH has been an amazing time filled with amazing people who have helped me practice my critical thinking and forced me to view the world as a malleable thing I can have a positive impact on.

COLSA: Tell us one unique or interesting thing about yourself.

Walsh: The past few months I have been getting my mom to teach me how to cook authentic Thai food. She grew up and spent most of her life in Thailand where she worked in restaurants, mostly in Bangkok but also around the country. It may be awhile for me to get to her culinary level, but I enjoy learning more about my culture and getting the chance to eat more homemade Thai food!

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