Jacob Wesely

Earlier this year, fourth-year finance student Jacob Wesely traveled to the West African nation of Ghana to volunteer for the country’s Department of Social Welfare. Wesely received course credit for his work in Ghana through a self-designed international experience option. Starting in February, he regulated and developed daycare facilities in the country’s Cape Coast area. It was an eye-opening experience.

“In a lot of cases, the daycares do not provide safe environments for children,” he says. “Many squeeze a large number of children into very small buildings with no access to bathrooms, which creates environments where sickness can spread rapidly.”

Wesely put his Carlson School education to good use by working to develop economically feasible strategies to help alleviate those conditions and ensure the daycares can stay in business.

“The project management skills I learned in my classes and internships have been very valuable,” he says. “I have also used ideas about increasing efficiency, although it takes quite a bit of work to get them implemented.”

Another key takeaway from the experience: Language skills matter. “English is spoken throughout the continent, but it is crucial to be fluent in the local tribal language,” he says, adding that the experience has made him want to do economic development work in Africa. “I will have to do some language study before I can come back on a full-time basis.”

Wesely returned to the Carlson School this fall after spending the summer working as a product management intern at Dish Network in Denver.

For more stories on students and alumni, check out the Carlson School magazine.