DFC interns and Castlelake executives

Dougherty Family College Interns Placed With Investment Firm Castlelake

“This is a learning opportunity for our scholars to gain a deeper understanding about the world of investments and wealth creation,” Dr. Buffy Smith, dean of DFC, said. 

Under the mentorship of a Castlelake professional, the three DFC interns will work alongside the firm’s investment operations and accounting teams to learn about aspects of due diligence, execution and accounting for an investment opportunity. The experience is expected to include research, the creation of financial models and accounting, in addition to practicing core business skills such as communication, presentation and project management. 

Associate Directors at investment firm Castlelake, Taylor Wells and Dominique Evich (foreground), meet with Dougherty Family College students Naomy Acosta Hernandez, Devin Riggins-Brown and Franklin Garcia Mendoza on their first day of their summer internship. (Photo by Angella Mixon / Castlelake.)
Angella Mixon / Castlelake

“Through this internship program, we hope to help students gain skills that are not only practical and applicable to future careers in financial services, but also gain self-confidence that will benefit them in any career path or phase of life,” said Rory O’Neill, executive chair and co-CEO of Castlelake. 

Rory Oneill, founder of Castlelake

We hope to help students gain skills that are not only practical and applicable to future careers in financial services, but also gain self-confidence."

Rory O'Neill
Co-CEO, Founder, Castlelake

Interns Franklin Garcia Mendoza and Devin Riggins-Brown agreed the experience with Castlelake can apply to different business careers, and in addition to their own growth and learning. They look forward to offering their ideas and perspectives to the company. 

“I have yet to solidify a career I want to enter, so I want to take the internship opportunity to learn about finance and grow my skill sets,” the third DFC intern, Naomy Acosta Hernandez, said. 

Dougherty Family College scholars Devin Riggins-Brown, Franklin Garcia Mendoza and Naomy Acosta Hernandez
Dougherty Family College scholars Devin Riggins-Brown, Naomy Acosta Hernandez and Franklin Garcia Mendoza (l-r) are interning at Castlelake investment firm during summer 2023.

DFC partners with several local companies to match students based on their interests with internships during their two years working toward their associate degree with the college. These experiences build skills in desirable professions and softer skills that the scholars will need to advance in school and professional life. Some DFC students, many of whom are the first in their family to enroll in higher education, have found full-time employment where they interned. 

For Castlelake, it is the first step toward working with a potential employee whose unique experience and way of thinking can contribute to better decision-making. 

Evan Carruthers CastleLake
Evan Carruthers

“Investment management is about making decisions grounded in due diligence, experience and creative thinking,” said Evan Carruthers, co-CEO and chief investment officer at Castlelake. “Attracting talent with diversity of thought and experience is central to the success of our firm and others like it. We hope to learn as much from our interns as they may learn from us.”  

In 2018, Harvard Business Review reported that the success rate of venture capital companies with partners from the same ethnic background was about 30% lower on average than ones with an ethnically diverse set of partners. A 2019 McKinsey study of more than 1,000 companies showed that those in the top quartile for ethnically diverse executive teams outperformed those in the bottom quartile by 36%. 

Castlelake was co-founded in 2005 by Rory O’Neill, who is also a member of the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees. The firm invests primarily in tangible assets, such as aircraft, real estate, land and renewable energy projects, and it provides business loans to clients and small firms. With its roots in Minneapolis, Castlelake has grown to a firm of seven global offices and a team of more than 200 professionals with a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds. It exists to invest capital on behalf of public pensions, foundations, endowments and other institutions. 

This past academic year, Castlelake and Dougherty Family College partnered through the school’s Professional Mentor Program. Pedro Costa, director, real assets at Castlelake, was a mentor for second-year student Felipe Nuñez Hilton.  

“Pedro gives me the best advice so that I can succeed in my life,” Nuñez Hilton said. “I personally don't know much about professional development or my future, but joining the mentorship program has helped me understand all of it.”  

Castlelake’s Chief People Officer and President Yen-Wah Lam
Yen-Wah Lam

Having tried various internship programs in the past, the Castlelake team found the DFC partnership offered more collaboration than the firm experienced previously.  The partnership also provided an opportunity to engage with a more diverse talent pool.  

“DFC has been collaborative as we’ve crafted the internship program to meet the goals of our firm, the students and the college,” said Castlelake’s Chief People Officer and President Yen-Wah Lam. “We’re confident that the program will be successful in this inaugural year and have the potential to expand and grow in the future.” 

Castlelake’s goal of attracting talent with diversity of experience and thought aligns with Dougherty Family College, which provides a supportive environment so that students earn a two-year associate degree with the knowledge that their culture, backgrounds and perspectives are assets to any business. Castlelake staff will assess future internship opportunities in the legal field, business communication and management. 

“We love seeing scholars grow through these experiences,” Smith said. “They start as interns, and by the end, they become confident young professionals.” 

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