Many MBAs approach their internships seeking new industries to explore. But Jon Wofsy, MBA 2018, remained eager to stay in his field, clean energy, while testing a new role. “I had been in clean energy before I came to HBS,” says Jon. “I always planned to stay, but I wanted to experience a different function.”

Prior to business school, Jon had fulfilled two roles in clean energy: one at a service provider to commercial energy users in the efficiency and demand response space,” and as an associate at an energy analytics startup. “Now I wanted experience in clean energy generation project development,” he explains.

Jon took a disciplined approach to his internship search that evolved over a logical sequence of phases. Step one: build a broad target list. “I worked from my previous knowledge in the space,” says Jon, “then expanded it through conversations with classmates and professionals outside HBS.” Many of his classmates were fellow members of the Energy & Environment Club on campus. Regardless of affiliation, they helped create a long list of “places I hadn’t heard of or had forgotten about.” Throughout the fall, “I made a point of talking to any classmate who shared my interests.”

By the early winter, Jon had moved to a second phase in which he “narrowed my personal funnel to project development” prospects. Most of the companies he investigated, given their modest scale and early stage of growth, “didn’t have an internship position on their websites.” To make progress and secure his initial interviews, Jon solicited introductions from people he knew.

Jon’s diligence paid off, earning direct conversations with approximately fifteen companies, interviews with six or seven, and five offers. In the end, Apex Clean Energy, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, emerged as the favorite.

“There was no strong salary differentiation – it was really about which company would give me the best experience,” says Jon. “Apex met all my search criteria. It’s a place where I could learn a lot about project development. It gave me a balance between autonomy and resources to help me learn. And it was on the east coast which I preferred.”

Jon’s internship started June 12 and will run through August 21. “I’m working with the business development team to pull together RFP responses, picking out the ones that make the most sense for us based on size, geography and price.” In addition, Jon is responsible for two research projects, one that looks into emission-free hydrogen production through wind generation, and another that predicts corporate demand for renewable energy based on a variety of corporate goals such as increased energy efficiency or waste reduction in the supply chain.

Reflecting on the search experience, Jon noted “The big, important thing was figuring out what I was most interested in. There are a lot of things you can prioritize, like lining up your first job after graduation, or getting into a different industry. For me, it was about narrowing down the industry and the place – it cut out a lot of noise and gave me a more focused approach.”