Economics, geography students intern with Penn State’s investment office

Molly Ligon
September 27, 2021

Prior to her internship with Penn State’s Office of Investment Management, Morgan Keim, a Dalmatia, Pennsylvania, native and senior majoring in economics, did not know what her future held. After her remote internship experience this summer, that is no longer the case.

Alongside Keim was Jacqueline Saleeby, a State College, Pennsylvania, native and senior majoring in geography with a minor in Arabic. The pair spent 14 weeks researching the integration of environment, social and governance practices, known as ESG for short, across the investment industry while recommending potential strategies for inclusion in the office’s investment process.

“In the beginning of the project, we were just looking to understand what environment, social and governance investing was,” Keim said. “The majority of our work was research and educating ourselves … We would go through university websites, investment management websites, investment consulting websites, pension funds, all of that to try and understand what their actions were and what their stances were on ESG.

That was how we started out. From that, understanding what ‘peers’ were doing in this industry regarding ESG. In the end, we were developing recommendations, doing competitive analysis, and creating a presentation of strategic recommendations for the Office of Investment Management. Our final presentation turned observational research into actionable recommendations.”

When asked about her day-to-day routine, Keim explained her daily tasks included building an Excel database, utilizing PowerPoint, writing reports, and communicating with her team.

Saleeby talked about one of the team’s meetings this summer with the Sustainability Institute regarding Penn State’s STARS score, which stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. The score tracks sustainability performances at universities around the country. Penn State’s score is currently the highest out of all Big Ten institutions.

“We met with the Sustainability Institute specifically for their STARS score, which is something all universities get. We talked about how the investment office can contribute to that STARS score, where we stand with efforts we’ve been doing, how those have affected our STARS score and how to build those efforts with the University.”

Saleeby said working with Keim was an enriching experience for her due to the knowledge that both of them could bring to the table.

“Morgan came from the more economics background and I came from the geography background, so I actually had a lot less knowledge about investing before going into it,” Saleeby said. “That was really a beneficial part about us working together because we used our skill sets, and we helped each other do that research and form those recommendations using our strengths. We both learned a lot because we both had different backgrounds coming into this.”

Keim explained how much she learned from her experience and how this opportunity will have an impact on her studies and classes in economics.

“Throughout this internship, I benefited from education on investment principals and learning how industry participants govern themselves,” Keim said. “Working within Penn State’s investment office gave me insight on office dynamics, communications and team project management. I also benefited from balancing independent work and collaboration/feedback from my intern team to achieve optimal results.”

While continuing to work with the office this semester, Keim explained how important this internship was for deciding her post-college goals.

“This internship ended up changing my future career path by giving me a new interest in the financial field,” Keim said. “I found the information to be exciting and projects to hold importance. This internship created technical work experience on my resume, which opens new career paths for me in the financial field.”

Keim explained how “grateful” she was for Joseph Cullen, the chief investment officer for the Office of Investment Management, for recognizing her potential for the internship opportunity.

“The internship was truly a kickstart to my career,” Keim said.

Keim shared that her experience and time in the College of the Liberal Arts have helped guide her during her time at Penn State and with what to expect after graduation.

“The College of the Liberal Arts has provided me with a large scope of career paths through the uniquely diverse education offered,” Keim said. “My adviser has helped me to explore different studies so that I could understand all my options and confidently pursue my top interests.”

Keim expressed the benefits of having an internship experience at Penn State and encouraged students to take advantage of all those opportunities.

“I want to share my experience so students can learn about ESG research and the operations of the investment office,” Keim said. “I also want to share my story so my peers can understand the career-developing internships Penn State offers and the impact one finds within that experience.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 27, 2021