Three Months in the Blink of an Eye

Hey everyone! I am going to pull a big blogger faux pas so please don’t hate me. I am consolidating some of my most memorable social and cultural experiences (thus far) from second semester into one post. How easy! How efficient! How “b-school” of me!

– Think Social Drink Local: A student fashion show organized by Stern’s Luxury & Retail Club and Social Enterprise Association. All of the proceeds go to the Stern Social Impact Internship Fund. The fund is a stipend that supports full-time first year MBA students going into summer internships for non-profit organizations who don’t always have the budget to pay their interns. It was a great excuse to get dressed up with my fellow Sternies and see some of our classmates (and our Dean!) walk the runway.

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– Spring Break, India Trek: With our trusty South Asian Business Society trek leaders at the helm (thanks Sameer and Abhay!), I and 30 other classmates traveled to India this March to explore five cities in 10 days. We visited the cities of Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Goa, and Mumbai. The country was just as beautiful as I imagined and the food was even better. We had our fair share of cultural sightseeing (had to get that perfect Taj Mahal Instagram shot), local marketplace shopping, and even got to squeeze in some relaxing beach time. I miss the naan!

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– Passport Day: The Stern Student Government organizes this annual even as a way for the student body to share their country’s diverse background and heritage through serving local cuisines, music, and dance. The girls and guys who performed in the India dance routine stayed up till 11pm practicing one night! It was an impressive event and reminded me of why I love being at Stern, a place that is brimming with culture and collaboration.

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I cannot believe we only have 5 weeks left in the school year! Where has the time gone? Stay tuned for some exciting updates in my next post!

Following Your Passions at Stern: A Case Study

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard a Sternie describe him- or herself as a “non-traditional” MBA. It’s a testament to the diversity at Stern, both in the backgrounds of our students as well as our post-graduation goals. For a relatively small school – there are 392 students in my class – Stern does a remarkable job at providing extracurricular opportunities for students to pursue their passions. Take my particular interest: social responsibility in the apparel and retail space. Definitely “non-traditional.” However, in the five or so months I’ve been at Stern, I’ve been able to explore this interest in a number of non-academic ways:

Consulting Projects

When I learned about the opportunity to work with West Elm through the Luxury Retail Consulting Corps, I jumped at the opportunity. I was ultimately appointed project lead on “West Elm Local,” an initiative to engage local communities by including more local “makers” into the company’s product assortment. My team worked with West Elm’s Strategy team to build out an operational scaling plan to address how the initiative would work at scale. Pretty great stuff. I learned a ton about the retail industry and the complexity of implementing social responsibility initiatives in larger companies.

Centers and Fellowships

This year, Stern announced that it was launching the first Center for Business and Human Rights at a business school, headed up by Michael Posner, founder of Human Rights First and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The center’s first topic area is worker safety in the Bangladesh garment industry – a subject that is obviously close to heart. At the beginning of the semester, I volunteered for a symposium that brought together stakeholders from across the garment industry, and I was recently brought on as a graduate fellow working on community engagement and research projects. I have a front-row seat as business leaders, garment factory owners, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations hash out the future of worker rights in the garment industry. It’s a lot harder than I imagined.

Funding Opportunities

Students interested in social enterprise and social responsibility often find it difficult to find paid summer internships in those fields. Enter, Stern’s Social Impact Internship Fund, a fellowship that provides up to $10,000 in funding to students pursuing low-paid or unpaid summer internships at social enterprises, B Corps, and non-profits. I applied for round one of the competition, and I was very excited to learn that I got it! Now when I’m approaching potential socially responsible employers for the summer, I don’t need to worry about how I’m going to pay my rent.

Clubs and Events

Through participation in Stern’s Social Enterprise Association and Luxury & Retail Club, I am on the planning committee for Think Social Drink Local, an annual sustainable fashion show and fundraising event for the Social Impact Internship Fund mentioned above. In addition to serving a great cause, it’s also one of the hottest social events of the spring and a great way to connect my contacts in the sustainable fashion, food, and beverage spaces with the Stern community.

Trips

In October, I traveled to California to attend the Net Impact Conference with Stern’s Social Enterprise Association. Net Impact brings together a remarkable collection of students and changemakers who are committed to using business as a force for good. I had the chance to hear candidly from senior executives at Levi’s, Patagonia, Timberland, Gap, and other companies I admire. It was a great way to step back, be inspired, and recommit myself to my chosen career path. And it was even better knowing that I would be returning to an environment that would enable me to push those goals forward.