From a young age, Nicole Krantz (MBA 2022) knew she wanted to make a positive change in the world. The question she has carried with her as she builds her career is how to best combine her interests and skills to do that in her unique way.

Building the Foundation for Change

Growing up, Krantz watched her aunt lead her own nonprofit foundation which sowed the seeds for Krantz’s interest in social impact. She then translated this passion to the world of international relations and government at Duke University as an undergraduate pursuing a degree in political science.

While at Duke, Krantz remained heavily engaged in nonprofit work while at the same time starting to explore her interest in business. This time, it was her father’s for-profit business career that captured her curiosity, and an on-campus business gave her the perfect opportunity to test out a new path. “I joined a student-run company, Campus Enterprises, as the Chief Operating Officer,” Krantz shared. “The company is several different ventures under one umbrella, and I founded a new cleaning service business within it.”

In her senior year, Krantz took on the role of CEO at Campus Enterprises and found herself “drawn to the for-profit way of thinking and solving problems.” With this shift, Krantz then sought out opportunities to build a strong foundation for a career in for-profit AND non-profit leadership and saw that the skills gap she needed to fill was in finance.

Back to the Drawing Board for Inspiration

To close the finance gap, Krantz dove directly into the industry instead of learning it from the outside. She spent three years in fixed income sales and trading learning new things every day and getting a 360-degree view of the business and markets.

But then it was time to reassess. “I realized the passion piece was not there, so I went back to the drawing board of what I really like to do and what inspires me” said Krantz. “It was then that I was introduced to the idea of social entrepreneurship and the intersection between for-profit business and social impact.”

This was exactly the intersection Sarah Kauss (MBA 2003) was focused on when she founded S’well, a reusable water bottle company that creates products that are both beautiful and eco-friendly and infuse innovation with inspiration. The mission had a strong appeal to Krantz, and she left finance to join S’well as the Business Strategy and Sustainability Manager. In her role, Krantz worked closely with the leadership team on building strategic partnerships that could further the company’s mission of sustainability. “I loved what we were doing at S’well and especially the people aspect of reaching our consumers and encouraging better habits,” she said.

Once again looking out towards the future of her career and the skills she would need to advance, Krantz was confident about her next move – honing her leadership abilities at Harvard Business School.

The Internship Search

At HBS, Krantz explored a range of consumer-related paths in her RC year and connected with Career Coaches to discuss consulting, retail, and consumer goods. Top of mind was finding a summer internship in which she could contribute to the company’s success and grow as a professional. She was also thinking about the summer with an eye towards testing a new work environment.

“I had worked at two smaller companies and founded a startup, so I thought, ‘What’s the opposite of that in retail?’” Krantz said. When she saw an internship opportunity at Dick’s Sporting Goods posted on the HBS recruiting platform, the large public company in the consumer retail space checked two major boxes. However, it was the ethos of the company and what they stood for that had Krantz clicking submit on her internship application.

“In addition to being one of our vendor partners at S’well, Dick’s Sporting Goods had recently appointed a female CEO. The company does a lot of work with brands to increase the focus on female athletes, and they had taken a strong stance on common sense gun laws both lobbying in Washington, D.C. and pulling guns from their stores,” Krantz explained. “I knew the brand name and some of the things they were doing in social impact, and then when I began meeting with people at Dick’s I fell in love with the down-to-earth, team-oriented culture.”

An Immersive Experience, Remote and In-Person

By the time Krantz had happily accepted an internship offer with Dick’s, she had already learned a great deal about the internship program structure and was eager to get started.

“I was really excited learning about the program and liked that I would have ownership over a big project important to the company,” said Krantz. “Every intern has a project sponsor at the SVP level, and you work directly with that SVP throughout the summer. You also have a project mentor who went through the executive development program and who is there to make sure you’re on track, shows you the ropes of Dick’s, and introduces you to people around the company.”

For her project, Krantz focused on creating an innovative store experience for the Dick’s owned golf chain, Golf Galaxy. The project was an ideal fit as Krantz is very interested in the future of retail and how traditional brick-and-mortar retailers can successfully incorporate consumer tech. Leveraging insights from the new Dick’s Sporting Goods House of Sport, which infuses live demos, immersive experiences, and technology into the in-store shopping experience, Krantz had an excellent model for her proposal while also incorporating deep research into the golf sector specifically to create something tailored and inspiring for customers.

Krantz also really appreciated the access the Dick’s Sporting Goods internship program provided to senior-level leaders in the company. In addition to working with the SVP and presenting to the CEO, over the course of the summer, she met with the Chief Communications Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer, and the Head of the Sports Matter Foundation. Through these conversations, she was able to discuss her interests in Dick’s Sporting Goods’ social impact work and their brand marketing.

Key Learnings & Advice

As Krantz reflected on her summer internship with Dick’s Sporting Goods, there are pieces of advice she shares with fellow students that are also highly relevant to recruiters.

First, she recommends that students seek out an internship that provides both structure and flexibility. “The main north star of this internship was making a recommendation to the CEO, but the project wasn’t rigidly defined,” she said. “That structure and having one thing I was focused on really allowed me to get depth over breadth and I was able to walk away with a tangible piece of experience.” When companies can provide this type of opportunity to interns, there is a clear mutual benefit.

Second, Krantz encourages HBS students to take advantage of the opportunity to do something different between RC and EC year to test and learn. “You have this one chance in the summer, so try something that makes sense logically and will help you advance your career in some way but will also allow you to test a lot of questions,” Kranz said. “This internship was a logical choice given my background, but it was something different to work at a large publicly-traded company and something that I would have never been able to experience without HBS and their partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods.”

For recruiters, take advantage of the opportunity to partner with HBS. Like Dick’s Sporting Goods has done, your organization can bring in talent ready and willing to take on a new challenge and add value to your organization.