Recruiting MBAs for Social Impact Internships

MBA Intern at SMASH Academy

MBA Intern at SMASH Academy

Berkeley-Haas MBAs want to have a positive impact on the world. For some of them, the time to start is now, not after graduation or a “first career” in corporate America. That desire translates into an opportunity for nonprofit and social enterprises to recruit and hire MBAs as summer interns. If your organization has a tough, strategic project that could use a smart, energetic, passionate MBA from a top program, now is the time to recruit.

Top graduate programs, including Berkeley-Haas, are seeing an increase in socially-focused MBAs. Is compensation too large an obstacle to be competitive? The answer is that there is no answer. Some large nonprofits can provide top pay, while others struggle to provide even a transportation stipend. Students are attracted to the full package; an interesting project, a strong organization, a unique experience, leadership development opportunities, work aligned with their passion, as well as pay and benefits.

The first step is creating a strong job description to market your project and organization. Some things to remember when creating a job description for MBAs:

  • Put the impact of your work and/or the strength of your organization front and center.
  • Link the expected outcomes of the work/project to the impact and mission of the organization.
  • What experiences will the candidate gain from the position that are unique or valuable?
  • Does the role create an experience with something new or innovative?

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HSIF: Documenting Health Access in Nepal – Grace Lesser

This is the seventh post in our Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) series.

4. Dhading DH Tent_Gorkha Mother

Mora, 29 years old: “This is my second child. More than this would be a challenge with the economics and with the health. If I don’t use a family planning method I’ll have another baby, and I don’t want that. Most women choose a permanent method for that reason. I will too.”

As an MBA/MPH student, Grace Lesser (2016) had the unique opportunity to receive both the UC Berkeley Global Health Reporting Fellowship and support from the Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) and Rashell Young Fellowship this past summer. With these fellowships, she pursued a customer insights/photojournalism study on access to maternal and reproductive health services in post-earthquake Nepal with One Heart Worldwide (OHW), a maternal health NGO with an extraordinary boots-on-the-ground presence in relief efforts there. “My goal in doing this project,” Grace said, “was to provide a counterpoint to the dryness of the policy conversation, or the flatness of the funding dialogue. My original goal was to document narratives across several different countries, but when the earthquake hit Nepal and I had the opportunity to go through a relief organization with a real local presence, I focused my efforts on examining health access in the wake of the crisis.”

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HSIF: Impact Investing in Mexico – Anette Urbina Gamboa

This is the sixth post in our Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) series.

Looking to transition to a Impact Investing career in her home country of Mexico, Anette Urbina Gamboa (MBA16) spent the summer working with IGNIA, a US$100 million venture capital firm investing in companies serving the base of the pyramid in Mexico. “IGNIA proved the perfect opportunity for me to gain exposure and work hand-in-hand with leaders and innovators in the field,” Anette said. “Their main focus is on investing in companies providing high-impact goods and services, such as healthcare, housing, financial services, and other basic services.”

A principle that resonated with Anette throughout her summer with IGNIA was: Question the status quo. She felt that the organization personified this principle its very core. With a history of social change only through governmental or philanthropic organizations, groups like IGNIA and other impact investing funds spurring a social entrepreneurship ecosystem, “the landscape is rapidly changing. It took a few early pioneers who dared to imagine a new way to deliver social good and forever alter the social impact landscape in Mexico.” Continue reading

HSIF: Providing Stable Futures Through Affordable Ownership – Angela Steele

This is the fifth post in our Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) series.

Habitat for Humanity development in San Francisco, Habitat Terrace.

Habitat for Humanity development in San Francisco, Habitat Terrace.

“The best moment of my internship was doing a walk-through of Habitat Terrace, a development in San Francisco,” Angela Steele (MBA16) said. “Standing on the construction site, it became real that 28 families who otherwise may have been displaced and left struggling to make ends meet will now be able to stay in the city and own their own home.” This past summer, Angela worked with Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco (GSF)’s Real Estate Development (RED) team, an opportunity she was able to pursue partly due to the Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF). Aside from building affordable single-family homes, Habitat for Humanity GSF also provides financial literacy courses to home buyers and rehabilitates distressed homes.

Having taken the Real Estate Speaker Series and participated in the Bank of America Low-Income Housing Challenge, Angela looked for a chance to examine the affordable ownership model within a small organization. “Maintaining a stock of affordable housing in order to preserve the diversity of cities is something I believe in and I wanted to explore this for my internship,” she explained. Continue reading

HSIF: Entrepreneurs Changing Communities – Dulce Kadise

This is the fourth post in our Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) series.

Dulce Kadise and her team with Michael Baker, co-founder of MBAs Across America, in New Orleans, LA.

Dulce Kadise and her team with Michael Baker, co-founder of MBAs Across America, in New Orleans, LA.

Traveling from New Orleans to Alabama to Little Rock to Nashville, Dulce Kadise (MBA16) worked to understand and assist four entrepreneurs’ varying needs and goals through MBAs Across America. A popular organization with Haas MBAs, Dulce and classmate Dan Fishman (MBA16) were teamed with a Harvard MBA and a Stanford MBA to, as Dulce described, “embark on a 5-week journey across the country working with four entrepreneurs who are changing their communities.”

In New Orleans, the team worked with Your Nutrition Delivered, a business focused on food as medicine, delivering meals tailored customers with certain diseases or conditions, brainstorming expansion strategy, including geographies, channels, and products. Continue reading

HSIF: Creating Sustainable Accounting Standards – Sonya Hetrick

This is the third post in our Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) series.

“We all know that internships are incredibly important in helping us decide the types of organizations we want to work for beyond our time here at Haas,” says Berkeley-Haas MBAA VP of Community and leader of the Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) fundraising and award process, Robbie Heath. “Having some extra money to cover expenses during the summer can help our classmates focus more on preparing for that future.” Through the HSIF, select students interested in social sector internships are awarded fellowships granting financial assistance, mostly funded by current Haas MBA students who divert a small part of their summer salaries to support their classmates. This past summer, Sonya Hetrick (MBA16) was an HSIF Fellow working at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

Sonya Hetrick and her fellow SASBees with the SASB gong, which is rung to celebrate accomplishments.

Sonya Hetrick and her fellow SASBees with the SASB gong, which is rung to celebrate accomplishments.

SASB is a non-profit organization developing industry-specific sustainability standards for publicly traded companies to use in their SEC filings. Sonya saw that their culture aligns well with all four of Haas’s guiding principles, particularly that they are an organization that has Confidence without Attitude—confident in their research and in the organization’s mission, yet open to input from a wide variety of stakeholders in order to develop the best possible standards. Continue reading

Students Helping Students Helping the Community

Every year, the Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) awards fellowships to first year full-time Haas MBA students taking summer internships at organizations in the non-profit or social sectors as well as for-profit social enterprises that have specific social impact goals. “The HSIF allows students to put their MBA skills toward great organizations and great causes without internship salary factoring as much into their decision,” said Robbie Heath (MBA16). Robbie is the MBA Association (MBAA) VP of Community, a position that traditionally leads the fundraising and award process. He got involved due to a desire to contribute: “I believe that a focus on social impact is something quite unique to the Haas culture. It is reflected in how we carry ourselves in our classes, conversations, clubs, events, etc., and the HSIF is just one way of ensuring that tradition of social focus continues.”

When students contribute to the HSIF, they are not directing their donation to specific organizations or causes. Rather, they are supporting classmates whose internships in the social sector offer a salary that is below average for MBA students. As Robbie explained, “Contributing to the HSIF is completely voluntary and allows classmates to support an entire portfolio of great candidates and projects that will really make a difference to these organizations and to the world.” Last year, there were 12 HSIF Fellows. Read about some of their experiences on the CSSL blog. Continue reading

HSIF: The Next Horizon for Healthcare – Rachel Park

This is the second post in our Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) series.

This past summer, Rachel Park (MBA16) embodied one of Haas’ guiding principles, “Students Always”, as a Haas Social Impact Fund Fellow at the Native American Health Center (NAHC), a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). “On Day 1 during orientation, we had a dedicated session on Native American history. I had learned about it in bits and pieces but I didn’t know much about the massive effort to separate Native children from their families by sending them to boarding schools, where they were subject to physical, verbal, and sexual abuse… It was illuminating (and heavy) to consider how these historical trends contribute to intergenerational trauma that influences health outcomes today.”

Rachel’s main project this summer was to develop a sustainability plan for the NAHC’s Community Wellness Department. “What’s unique about NAHC is the emphasis on cultural pride and cultural activities for the Native American population: Community Wellness, as they call it. This broad view of culture as prevention isn’t something I’ve encountered in the private sector, but it definitely seems like a critical part of ensuring good health,” Rachel stated. To help ensure the NAHC’s longevity, she conducted a cost-benefit analysis to help the department understand the costs associated with adding an insurance contract relative to its projected revenues. Continue reading

HSIF: How I Spent My Summer Internship – Amy Chou

This is the first post in our Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) series.

Nisha Wadhwani (Intern at Character Lab, Chicago Booth MBA 2015), Dr. Angela Duckworth (founder of Character Lab), and Amy Chou

Nisha Wadhwani (Intern at Character Lab, Chicago Booth MBA 2015), Dr. Angela Duckworth (founder of Character Lab), and Amy Chou

Every year, the Haas Social Impact Fund selects students interested in using their internships to work in the social sector. The program is funded mostly by current Haas MBA students who divert a small part of their summer salaries to support their classmates. “I’m extremely grateful for the generosity of my classmates. It was very touching to see how many of them contributed to HSIF to support me in pursuing my passions,” said one of this year’s Fellows, Amy Chou (MBA16).

This summer, Amy “nerded out” at Character Lab, a nonprofit startup whose mission is to bridge the science of character development with the daily work of teaching so students can reach their potential. Amy’s project had her serving in a consultant-type capacity with work ranging from analyzing the existing product pipeline to identifying external dissemination platforms, from synthesizing their project landscape to volunteering at a conference for researchers and teachers and a professional development workshop for teachers hosted by Character Lab. Continue reading

Berkeley-Haas MBAs Have an Impact with Peer Funding


Kory Caro, MBA15

Since 2004, the Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) has provided funding to first-year, full-time Berkeley-Haas MBA students who will use their summer internships to have a social impact. The program allows recipients to leverage their background and Berkeley-Haas education on a project tackling social and environmental issues. Students typically work for organizations that serve the public interest but cannot offer to pay a “typical” MBA salary. HSIF benefits social impact employers by providing them access to much-needed MBA talent for summer projects that they could not otherwise afford.

“We really want to ensure that social impact organizations are able to compete with the private sector for MBA talent as well as provide an opportunity for Haas students to explore these MBA-level roles in the social sector,” MBAA Vice President of Community Robbie Heath said.

The HSIF is a true student led and student-run initiative. It is funded by first year Haas MBAs and alumni contributions. Students donate one day of their summer internship pay to the fund.

In 2014, the fund provided a total of $30,000 in awards to 12 students working on a wide variety of projects, including healthcare, education, environmental sustainability, and others. Kory Caro, MBA15 (above), helped several small businesses through the MBAs Across America.

Students with a passion for social impact are encouraged to apply. The deadline is 11:59 PM on Sunday, April 26. For more information about the fund and to download the application, please visit the HSIF website at, and feel free to contact with any questions about the application or how to get involved with the fund.

The fund has established a strong track record of success and impact.