Welcome to Terps with Purpose, a web series from the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business featuring undergraduates, MBA students and alumni working to create social and environmental prosperity through their careers. Follow along with us this summer to learn more about their career journeys and the impact they have had along the way.
Since graduating from the University of Maryland in 2013, Lauren Wittig has engaged in the social impact space in a variety of ways. Lauren held five positions at Unilever over just four years, spent seven months travelling the globe, and today resides as associate director, Partner Relations at WE in Chicago.
But let’s take a step back. Lauren’s inspirational journey began her sophomore year as an undergraduate student. That’s when she decided to become a Terps for Change tutor, complete a summer internship in customer development at Unilever and participate in the Center for Social Value Creation’s Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship trip to Thailand her senior year. That was enough to put a social impact mission in mind for the remainder of her academic career, and ultimately inspire her professional career. After graduation, Lauren continued with Unilever where she held roles in sales, marketing, and sustainability across four cities in the U.S. and U.K. In January this year, feeling inspired to challenge herself in new ways, Lauren decided to “meet the world - and change the world.” She left her job at Unilever to discover the many ways in which social good and social impact take form across cultures; Lauren traveled for seven months, across six continents, to 35 countries.
All of this began with a simple bus ride from Syracuse to NYC on New Year’s Eve. Lauren wanted the opportunity to discover new cultures, share positivity, and learn more about social impact around the world. After tirelessly searching for an opportunity, Lauren decided to create her own. In less than one month’s time she set-off on a transformative journey, from one country and plane ride to the next, all the while sharing her journey and experiences through her blog, best.world.ever.
Uncertain of what to expect, Lauren was eager to meet new people. By researching social impact initiatives, utilizing her network, and meeting with international community members to learn about the challenges they are working to solve, Lauren gained a strong sense of direction for her adventure. She travelled to cities such as Budapest, Cape Town, Tokyo and Santiago, and she documented her experiences and reflections. With a positive and curious mental frame, Lauren was able to expand her social impact mindset, enabling her concepts and ideas of social change to be colored and made more dimensional by the many different perspectives she encountered. Throughout Lauren’s journeys, strangers became friends, and friends became important advocates that enabled even greater positive change in her life.
Lauren’s writing expresses her creativity as well captures the incredible social impact and sustainability insights she’s gained from her experiences around the globe. Her hope for best.world.ever is to bring awareness to social good to all her followers and readers. Here are just a few words of wisdom Lauren asks others to keep in mind:
- Keep your eyes - and mind - open. Look out for positivity and social good spread throughout your day. You’ll notice it’s everywhere and it can be totally uplifting! Also, say yes to new, unknown things. You never know where it will take you - and so often its somewhere good!
- Embrace your alone time. As an extrovert, I often would avoid time alone, but I learned to love it during my travels. Spending time alone is meaningful at home, or abroad and helps you grow and expand your horizons.
- Take risks and create. Leaving my job to travel the world was a leap of faith, but I knew I had to do it. What I gained and how I grew was unparalleled to anything I had experienced before. Trusting my intuition, believing in this next step, and starting best.world.ever allowed me to bring something new to the world that is hopefully valuable, impactful – and unique to only me.
Lauren is currently writing a book about her travel experience, but in the meantime you can learn more about her social impact travels here: https://www.bestworldever.community/. When she’s not working, writing, or traveling, Lauren also enjoys painting and reading.
- Sarina Haryanto, Class of 2018, CSVC Impact Ambassador