For many Smith students, an ideal career is one with more than just a big salary. They want a career that aligns with their values and supports a mission they feel passionate about. During the Social Impact Career Workshop series co-hosted by Center for Social Value Creation, Office of Career Services, and co-founder of More Than Money Careers, Mrim Boutla, Smith students learned how to translate experience and education into a career path aligned with their personal values.
Workshop 3 – “Get Networking,” was the capstone event to this three part series where Smith students had the opportunity to meet and network with Smith alumni who are now impact-driven professionals. Workshops 1 and 2 blended practical exercises and mobile technology to strengthen students understanding and help them engage with career resources at Smith. The students were than able to apply these lessons in real networking situations in Workshop 3.
Workshop 3 began with two short panels highlighting alumni from the for-profit and non-profit sectors. All of the alumni seemed to share a common motivation in pursuing social impact work: a belief in the power of business to address social or environmental issues. Jeff Blankman, owner of a renewable energy consulting firm called Energy Solutions group, recalled that a college professor told him solar power would never be more than a hobby or solution for resource strapped third world countries.
“Now that I’m doing solar projects successfully people have gone from, ‘are you nuts?’ to ‘can you do any more?’” Blankman explained.
The alumni working in the non-profit sector all started out in for-profit companies and found their business experience in high demand when they decided to make the switch. Steve Ollis, COO at a health technology non-profit called D-Tree International and former Management Consultant, explained that one of his most critical functions is to translate communication between health, technology and finance professionals.
Following the panel, students directly engaged with alumni in a speed networking adaptation. An alumnus was placed at each table in the room and groups of students rotated among the tables during three networking sessions. Students tried out their new ‘impact elevator pitches’ they had worked on in previous workshops and alumni provided them feedback. What started as pitch feedback often became great conversations.
After the speed networking ended at 7:30 p.m., many students and alumni stayed for another hour talking about their interests and sharing their experiences at Smith. Kushaan Shah, a senior Supply Chain Management major said after the event, “I loved hearing about the paths the alumni have taken to get to where they are now. It really makes me hopeful that I can take what I’ve learned at Smith and do something I love.”