The capstone course. You know it as the finale of many college programs, but here’s what you might not know: What will you get out of yours?
Here are the basics. If you’re a UW Sustainable Management master’s or bachelor’s student, the capstone course is a semester-long project completed at a real workplace. With help from your adviser, you select an organization and design a project that’s tailored to your personal or professional interests in business and sustainability.
When UW Sustainable Management faculty, advisers, and program staff developed the capstone course, they wanted to make sure students got real-life experience using all the skills they learned in the online curricula. But, they also wanted students to have the opportunity to network and make connections in the field—and potentially get a job offer.
So, that’s what you could gain from your capstone experience. We asked a few of our graduates to share details about their projects and how their careers benefited from the experience. Here’s what they said.
The organization: Sustain Dane
The project: Prior to working for the City of Madison, Stacie joined Sustain Dane as a business intern to research how local breweries finance sustainability projects. “I loved my capstone project because I could bounce ideas off coworkers who were familiar with the community, and they put me in touch with people I could interview for my research. I gained a ton of connections to sustainable businesses. Even if I hadn’t gotten the job I have now, I am confident those connections would have led to other career opportunities.”
What she gained: After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Management, Stacie was asked to fill the role of director of sustainable business initiative at Sustain Dane.
The project: Sherri completed an independent project focused on the connection between environmental justice and health equity.
What she gained: “The capstone project was very meaningful for me in personal and professional ways. I was excited about the opportunity to expand my understanding and knowledge about environmental impact with the hopes of not only sharing this newfound knowledge with family and friends, but also by making a meaningful impact on my community. It helped me professionally, because I had the opportunity to do some strategic thinking about how I might advance this conversation in my workplace.”
The organization: Procter & Gamble
The project: “I did most of the work while I was stationed in Singapore. I looked into how ENGOs can help frame corporate sustainability structure and improve environmental sustainability as a result. My goal was to investigate the relationship of ENGO-corporate alliances and corporate sustainability and also how that relationship is perceived by people in the profession and the general public. I achieved this by sending out a survey across the globe and receiving about 200 respondents from 32 countries; this provided me with valuable feedback.”
What she gained: “I recently departed from the corporate sector to join an ENGO in a function that engages corporations for more sustainable practices. As such, this project was highly beneficial to my career development here at WWF.”
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The organization: Green Bay Packers
The project: Matthew helped the NFL franchise “green” their operations by finding ways to reduce energy and water consumption; increase positive public relations for green activities; reduce waste; and increase the Packers fan base through environmentally responsible practices.
What he gained: Matthew now has practical experience applying many of the sustainable business concepts he learned in the classroom. Plus, he has both “University of Wisconsin” and “Green Bay Packers” on his resume.
The organization: Cleveland Browns
The project: Alexandria focused on “greening” the Cleveland Browns NFL franchise. During home games, she went behind-the-scenes at the stadium to conduct research and found that though the sports team was making sustainable efforts, a lot of work needed to be done.
What she gained: Alexandria went on to become a research and sustainability analyst for the Browns.
The organization: Kenosha Water Utility
The project: “Kenosha Water Utility needed someone to create a formal safety program. For my capstone project, I developed the safety program from the ground up. I had a few on-site meetings, but most days, I worked independently from home. I researched and wrote when I wanted to—and the project came together beautifully. They are in the process of implementing a version of my safety program now!”
The organization: Barefoot Painter
The project: “For my capstone project, I chose to use a business that I currently own, Barefoot Painter. My goals were to complete a living, breathing document that would benefit the business for many years to come. Throughout the project, short-and long-term goals were set for the company. I developed tools that could be used to ensure accuracy and completeness. For example, I created data tracking tools to help with inventory and ordering. One of our main goals is to be environmental stewards, and we wanted to make sure that our processes showed that. We now educate our clients on ways to extend the life of their paint and how storage and disposal can affect the environment.”
What she gained: “In the few short months since I completed my capstone project, business has boomed. The capstone required me to take the time necessary to sit and plan. It made my business partner and I realize that there were things we both wanted to add to the business that we had not previously, such as some interior design and more color consultations.”
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Have questions about the UW Sustainable Management capstone, curriculum, tuition, admissions, and more? An enrollment adviser would be happy to discuss these things with you!
Or, to explore the Sustainable Management bachelor’s or master’s degree program, start here.