Summer Spotlight: Natalia Suska (B’22)

Natalia Suska

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Each year, Georgetown McDonough students spend their summers working with corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations, volunteering, and pursuing their passions. While summer 2020 presented never-before-seen challenges, McDonough students rose above and made the most of an unprecedented summer.

Tell us about your summer.

My summer started very disappointingly, with opportunities, volunteering, and study abroad being canceled nearly every week due to coronavirus. When I realized early on that almost everything I had planned for this summer was not going to happen, I shifted my focus on what I could continue on my own. I already had a year-long internship with Beyond the Billion, a cohort of venture funds that worked to improve funding to women-owned businesses. I focused more time in initiating an overhaul of Beyond the Billion’s website and beginning a data analysis of the cohort’s pledges for their annual report.

In mid-May, my close friend Liana Wang (C’22), created a company, Novaris Consulting, to offer pro-bono services for small businesses affected by the pandemic. I immediately joined in on this venture, helping create the company’s structure and operations side, along with the website. By June, we recruited 20 students from across the world and various universities (including Georgetown and Harvard) to help students whose summer internships had been canceled. By August, we also helped two companies restructure their business and marketing plans. Despite the challenges of this new lifestyle and remote environment, I was able to build a meaningful and memorable summer. 

How did your summer relate to your professional or personal interests or aspirations?

While I may start my career in a more traditional path to develop my skills and network, I am enchanted by entrepreneurship and want to pursue it long-term. Helping grow Novaris Consulting from an idea to a real, functioning non-profit, I learned the nuts and bolts of creating a project from the ground up. I got to be involved in the recruiting cycle, initial marketing, and launch, so Novaris was able to give me a sense of how businesses begin, work, fail, and succeed. Beyond the Billion also is a relatively new company that started in 2018. Having been with Beyond the Billion for almost a year and seeing it scale from The Billion Dollar Fund For Women, also has influenced how I see the growth of businesses. I am very grateful for the opportunities of being involved with these organizations, and I am confident that the insights and skills I gained will help propel my career.

How did you find these opportunities? 

I was chatting with my close friend Liana about how coronavirus had ruined everything when she proposed to me her idea for Novaris. I immediately was drawn to helping students and businesses navigate the pandemic’s effects, and it turned out to be more fulfilling than I could have imagined. I found Beyond the Billion in a different way: a club on campus. Last fall, I joined Innovo Consulting and was put on a project for Beyond the Billion. In a small team, we analyzed a variety of financial models for them to adopt to become a self-sustainable company. After this consulting project concluded, I wanted to continue working with them, and was able to connect with the co-founders via Innovo, landing me in the organization. 

What was the most interesting or impactful thing you worked on?

I loved being the Chief Operations Officer at Novaris Consulting because of the effect we had on our associates. Because of the pandemic, so many summer plans and internships were canceled for students, so being able to provide them a platform for which to grow and learn was incredible. We employed over 20 students from schools like UC Berkeley, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Georgetown, giving them a way to connect and build off of each other. Simultaneously, this opportunity allowed me to learn from an incredible set of talented students, whom I otherwise would have never met. 

How were your summer plans adjusted because of coronavirus?

Initially, I had been accepted into the McDonough School of Business’s Signature Global Program in Tokyo and was heartbroken to hear that summer study abroad was canceled due to coronavirus. Unfortunately, by the time we found this out, it was too late to do a traditional summer internship, with applications being due months before. Instead, I decided to focus more on personal and professional development, diving deeper into my year-long internship with Beyond the Billion and developing Novaris Consulting. 

What did a typical day look like?

As cliche as it is, I did not have a typical day. I chose to make every day completely different because I’m not too fond of doing the same routine. Some days I dedicated hours more time for my work with Beyond the Billion; other days, I was more focused on Novaris or my professional development. I also tried to be spontaneous at least twice a week, like taking a day trip with my best friend to a waterfall or state park or spending time making a new meal or dessert. 

Any advice for other students?

One of the best pieces of advice I have been given is that when facing rejection, the opportunity just was not meant to be. Sometimes we might not get the internship we wanted and worked so hard for, and other times a relationship may end poorly, but even if it looked to be a positive thing in general, it might not have been a positive thing for us. We might even think a good opportunity like that won’t happen again, but we will always find something else that makes us feel positive and passionate.