An Intern’s Guide to the Alphabet Soup of Impact Investing

August 2023 | Impact Investing

When I started my internship earlier this summer at Community Capital Management (CCM), I had a budding passion for impact investing but little experience in the industry. The confidence that I had as the fresh intern on the scene did not carry me well through my first team meeting, which was chock-full of new acronyms, terminology, and analogies. At first, the impact investing jargon felt like a pot of alphabet soup that I could not begin to digest. I was in a sea of ESG, SRI, and SDGs that felt like a complicated riddle. But I maintained a poker face throughout the call, nodding along while making sure to copy phrases down on a notepad to decrypt after the meeting.

Once the translating began, and the alphabet soup simmered down, I realized that socially responsible investing (SRI) and environmental, social, and governance criteria (ESG) were just two terms that would unlock my understanding of a powerful and impactful style of investing. The acronyms were a way of associating money with meaning. Impact investing presents a dynamic combination of financial practicality and philanthropy that has the potential for profound environmental and social change. These basics may seem obvious to those in the field, but my time at CCM has taught me a more unexpected aspect of the field: its accessibility.

As a young intern in the realm of finance, it often feels as though investing is for large corporations and mega-rich businesspeople. My favorite aspect of impact investing is that it disproves such an assumption. Anyone with the means to make an investment has the potential to affect meaningful change while fostering financial well-being. The CCM team has taught me that there is much more to investment management than just looking at returns — there is potential for important and critical societal change in addition to returns. As I prepare for my senior year at Northwestern, I feel confident that I have taken big bites of alphabet soup from this internship that will carry me past graduation and beyond — where I plan to take everything I have learned and make a local and global impact.

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