McDonough School of Business
News Story

Summer Internship Spotlight: Amie Fleming (MBA'19), Grand Canyon National Park


Each year, our students spend their summers in Washington, D.C., across the nation, and around the world working in corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations. This month, we’re featuring Full-time MBA students with particularly interesting summer internships.

Amie Fleming (MBA’19)

Summer Consultant, Business Plan Internship, National Park Service
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

What are you doing this summer?

My co-intern and I are serving as summer consultants for Grand Canyon National Park, working and living in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. We are working for the Planning, Environment, and Projects division, analyzing commercial backpacking trends in the over 1 million acres of backcountry within the park. The Grand Canyon’s visitation was over 6 million people in 2017 (a new record!). Over 39,000 people spent the night in the canyon, and it is increasingly competitive to get a backcountry permit during both the peak and off-season months. In light of these trends, our role is to compile a wide variety of data from the commercial services team, visitor and resource protection, the backcountry office, and more to help management get a holistic understanding of what role guided backpacking trips play in the use of the park.

How does the National Park Service relate to your professional or personal interests?

I’ve always loved national parks. Like a lot of people, I keep a running list of all the parks I’ve been to — and I really enjoy backpacking whenever I can. While I ultimately pursued an MBA because I wanted to advance my project management and financial analysis skills, my heart is committed to using my degree for conservation and sustainable land use.

One thing I really love about the Park Service is its mission. There are probably no for-profit organizations that exist to preserve a resource for everyone, forever. The business problems that emerge here are complex, unique, and ultimately fascinating. It’s a cool experience to be applying my MBA training in a totally different way than most of my peers. I also love that my particular project is under the Planning, Environment, and Projects division. I get a glimpse into what it takes to maintain one of the most iconic national parks in the world — from critical maintenance projects that help protect the park’s resources, to projects aimed at improving the visitor experience. As I look to my professional interests, this internship is confirming that I’d be delighted to join the Park Service or take the leap into a related industry like conservation finance.

How did you find the internship?

Inspiring Capital is the partner organization for the National Park Service’s Business Management Group, and together they run the Business Plan Internship (BPI). Inspiring Capital recruited on campus, and they were at the Net Impact conference I attended in the fall. McDonough has had a number of MBAs serve as BPIs, so being able to chat with them was really helpful in understanding the internship.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done so far this summer?

One of the coolest things has not happened yet: As part of our analysis, our supervisors are sending us on a backpacking trip in the canyon, so we can better understand the visitor experience. We’ll be doing a four-day Rim to Rim hike, spending the night at each of the three main campgrounds in the backcountry, and crossing the Colorado at Phantom Ranch. It will be invaluable research for our project and obviously a phenomenal opportunity to get down to the heart of the canyon.

Of the things I have done, taking the park bus out to Hermits Rest after work and running along the rim trail until the sunset was incredible. I have many suggestions for any Hoyas who visit the park!

What else should we know?

One of the best parts of this internship has been that the Grand Canyon really demands that you be fully present — not just at work, but outside the office as well. At the office, the mission of the Park Service and of the Grand Canyon resonates personally with everyone who works here, and their commitment to the park is highly evident in everything they do. Living in Grand Canyon Village also has very limited cell service and wifi, so by default folks feel much more engaged with the community here. And lastly, even simple things like going for a run require you to be a little more alert than normal so as not to run straight into an elk and her babies on the trail (as I did the other morning!). Overall, it’s been a wild, refreshing, and energizing contrast to business school, and I couldn’t have asked for a better internship experience.