University of Vermont

My Summer at Sopher

Alex Marcucci

That's me standing in the middle with my two bosses at my sides and the two other interns in front.

The majority of my mornings this summer were spent at my internship at Sopher Investment Management. This South Burlington-based business is an independent wealth manager for a wide variety of clients. They oversee personal investing and track market trends to make predictions on future financial patterns. Over the past few years, there has been a push across the board of investment managers for socially responsible investing (SRI). People who practice SRI choose portfolios and companies to invest in that place importance on such factors as environmental sustainability, community donations, and safe working conditions while remaining profitable.

In response to this SRI push, Sopher took me on as an intern to research the companies that the business invests in. My responsibility, in collaboration with another environmental intern, was to screen over one hundred fifty companies for the following categories: profitability, greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, working conditions, water consumption, and waste production. My primary resources for conducting my research were the Sustainability/Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports that each company puts out annually for public viewing.

After I gathered all of the raw data, I converted it all to standard units and used revenue as a control variable to compare the categories I researched among companies within the same sectors. In the end, the final major product I delivered was a ranked list of the companies within each industry as measured by their carbon, energy, water, and waste productivities. In the future, Sopher plans to reference my work in their SRI decisions and use it as an educational resource for clients. I also did assorted other jobs at Sopher, such as creating two educational worksheets for new interns to learn more about everything from brand ownership to Vermont agriculture. Additionally, the internship gave me a lot of professional experience. I went to a couple business lunches with my bosses and even presented my work in front of the board of advisors for Sopher.

I went into this internship with no knowledge in the field of finance and come out of it knowing way more than I ever expected to. My internship at Sopher allowed me to view the environmental problems I study in class every day through a different lens, one I had never even considered before. I am thankful that I learned what socially responsible investing is, so that when I graduate, and (hopefully) begin having a steady income, I will have some idea what to do with my money.