Ross Fly, a Master of Environmental Management student, spent his summer as an intern at 8 Rivers Capital.
Each year, Nicholas School of the Environment students complete internships with organizations around the world. These internships provide valuable opportunities to gain career-related experience and build a professional network.
Duke Environment recently caught up with Ross to learn more about his experience.
WHAT DID YOU DO AT YOUR INTERNSHIP AND HOW DID YOU USE THE SKILLS YOU LEARNED AT THE NICHOLAS SCHOOL?
I worked this summer at 8 Rivers Capital, a climate technology company that invents and commercializes infrastructure-scale technology. Based in Durham, 8 Rivers was formed nearly 15 years ago and has since developed over 500 patents, with technologies spanning power generation, direct air capture of carbon dioxide, hydrogen production and other facets of the energy transition. The challenge, however, is that these are big, expensive projects! So, commercializing this technology is not simple. It requires finding project partners, investors, product off-takers, and others who have both the interest and the capabilities to execute large energy projects.
8 Rivers brought me onto their business development team as an analyst to help commercialize their hydrogen production and sour gas (high H2S natural gas) treatment technology. Using my Nic School education alongside my past experience as an engineer and project manager, I worked to bridge the gap between our technology and our potential clients. Something I loved about my role was the amount of day-to-day and week-to-week variability that comes with working for a nimble company with a start-up mindset. I had the opportunity to construct sour gas market outlooks, build hydrogen technology pitch decks, develop a sales and investment tracking tools, and draft proposals for potential clients.
My education through the Nicholas School helped me develop the fundamental skills and knowledge to work across business development, strategy, engineering, and capital management teams. While my Nic School coursework certainly helped me perform technical analyses and calculations, what I found most valuable was how the Nic School taught me to critically evaluate different energy technologies through a variety of lenses. It was this skillset that I most relied upon when discussing with our different teams the best way to position our products to potential clients.
How did the Nicholas School help you during your internship search?
The Nicholas School’s Career & Professional Development Center (CPDC) helped me decide which internship opportunities to consider and which ones not to consider. It’s easy to get sucked into the tide of applying for the same roles as everyone around you. If you don’t, you feel you might be left behind. Looking back, I’m incredibly appreciative that the CPDC steered me away from certain internships. These were great internships for many students, but the CPDC recognized that the skills and experience I would develop in these internships would have limited value for the career path in I wanted. Because of this guidance, I focused my efforts solely on those roles that were a good fit for me and was able to land the best internship for my interests.
How will this experience help you in your career?
After graduation, I want to help large companies and industries innovate to reduce their environmental impact. Through my internship, I’ve gotten a glimpse into the effort and challenges associated with commercializing new technology and decarbonizing large-scale, industrial systems. I’ve experienced how deals are developed, researched market opportunities, and seen the concerns clients have about changes to their industrial processes. I come from a technical background as an engineer, so my goal this summer was to gain commercial experience. My internship at 8 Rivers gave me the best crash-course in this space that I could have wanted.