Introducing The Aspen Fellowship, a 6-week program helping black undergrad students build the skills they need to jumpstart their careers.

Brian Hollins (MBA 2021) is building the Aspen Fellowship, a 6-week program that provides black undergraduate students with the project management skills they need to succeed in corporate America.

Fellows will be paired with advisors who manage the project’s scope, development, and overall direction. At the conclusion of the program, fellows will have spent valuable time implementing their advisors’ feedback, learning about a new industry, and building valuable personal and professional skills. 

The 2020 Aspen Fellowship is proud to offer 50+ internships that build the skills all students need to succeed in a corporate environment, including how to analyze data, collaborating with peers, managing deadlines, and presenting information. These 50 projects will not only build sharper, more experienced candidates, but will also forge stronger connections between mentors and future leaders in the African American community.

If you or anyone you know would be a good Fellow or Advisor, please feel free to apply now on the Aspen Fellowship website. Deadline to apply is May 27th, program begins June 8th. 

To learn more about the genesis of the program, hear directly from Brian below. 

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Introducing the Aspen Fellowship 

I started the Aspen Fellowship to fill a void in the undergraduate professional development space that I believe (still) exists today.

Prior to joining HBS, I spent six years at Goldman Sachs across three different divisions (Investment Management, Investment Banking, Growth Equity Investing). From time to time students facing graduation will reach out asking for advice as they begin their professional careers. One of the most common questions is “what skills got you to where you are today”? 

It is important to acknowledge that there is no singular path to a successful career, nor have I figured out the best one yet! I continue to learn through trial and error and constructive feedback from personal mentors. With that said, here are 5 essential skills that will jump-start any young professional career:

GRIT

Not everyone will have a formal internship this summer, but that should never stop you from finding ways to get better. As legendery basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Use your undergrad summers to build the skills in areas you have traditionally struggled, and don’t give up on finding unique ways to add experience to your resume.

Attention to detail

Did you catch that I spelled legendary wrong above? The sign of a good analyst/associate in any role is an ability to develop a strong eye for the little things. Double check emails before sending, add the ET or PT when asking to schedule a meeting, and always assume someone doesn’t understand your acronyms. It will go a long way in avoiding back and forth, and more importantly will reduce miscommunication or appearing to not care.

Initiative and an opinion

Find ways to perform a task before your boss asks for it. As you sharpen this skill, you will even begin forming an opinion and helping add value in ways your team didn’t expect! Being proactive and helping take things off your direct reports mind makes you a valuable part of their day and helps increase the likelihood of them adding you to projects that matter.

“Yes Man” / “Yes Woman” attitude

There are inherently tasks that arise during any job that may seem tedious or may not be the most engaging project you will remember completing. Instead of getting frustrated, recognize these small tasks as an opportunity to interact more frequently with your boss, learning how they think and what makes them a successful corporate leader. Most importantly, become someone they can rely on, because having them advocate for your success is far more important come time for promotions or bonuses.

Be a nice human

This sounds trivial, but over my six years in the professional world, this is by far the most essential skill you can develop to build long term success. You will spend more time with colleagues than many of your family members, and it is crucial that you are encouraging, helpful, and in it as a team-player. Build rapport with your teammates and finding ways to help them before asking for their help is crucial…it will often make its way back to you in ways you couldn’t expect.


The Aspen Fellowship will enable students to build these skills before they graduate, setting themselves up to “hit the desk running” early in their careers. If you would like to be (or nominate) a Fellow or Advisor, please check out the website and join our effort to help black undergrad students develop the building blocks they need to succeed.