Thank you for your interest in Columbia Business School’s Social Enterprise Club!
There are a number of exciting social enterprise activities that await you at CBS. Whether your interest is in non-profit consulting, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, education management, socially responsible investing or another socially-minded career path, there are many ways to get involved and awesome events to attend. We are happy to share our educational and professional experiences with you, both before and during business school. We encourage you to spend some time on our site to familiarize yourself with the many great offerings of the SEC.
Please email either the VP or AVP of Prospective Students (see our Officer List for their email addresses) if you have specific interests or questions about social enterprise at CBS. They can also match you with a current student who shares your interest and can provide further insight.
Events for Prospective Students
Everybody interested in social enterprise is encouraged to attend our annual Social Enterprise Conference held each fall.
Additionally, prospective students are welcome to visit the campus and speak with current students. Contact the Admissions Office to arrange a class visit.
Furthermore, a select number of Social Enterprise Club-sponsored information panels, club events, and happy hours are open to prospective and admitted students throughout the year.
The Social Enterprise Curriculum explores social enterprise within four focus areas:
- Public & Nonprofit Management
- International Development & Emerging Markets
- Social Entrepreneurship
- Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability
For more information on the elective course offerings, please refer to this website.
The Social Enterprise Club Peer to Peer (P2P) Groups initiative seeks to provide networking and mentoring opportunities for club members interested in specific focus areas within social enterprise. Our current P2P Groups include:
- Healthcare and Global Health
- Impact Investing
- Philanthropy / Foundations / Nonprofits
- Social Entrepreneurship
- Arts, Media, & Entertainment
- International Development
The Social Enterprise Club aims to give students interested in social enterprise the inspiration, information, tools and contacts necessary to achieve their career goals. The Club provides resources for students by organizing career events, sharing information and leads, distributing a resume book, working with the career management center, and cooperating with affiliated organizations, such as Net Impact, Business for Social Responsibility, Social Venture Network and a variety of other organizations.
Finding Focus & Suggested Readings
Given the breadth of Social Enterprise, students aim to find a balance between exploring different options and focusing on a few target areas for career search purposes. Although students may express an interest in working for companies in Social Enterprise roles, nonprofits, or public sector organizations, students may find it useful to clarify which particular area within the field they intend to investigate in detail. There are a number of books that are assumed reading for traditional MBAs (Liar’s Poker, Barbarians at the Gate, Monkey Business, etc). MBA students interested in Social Enterprise have compiled a number of book recommendations (please see book list one, two and three). These might be of interest to those interested in current ideas, exploring career options, or looking for inspiration to pursue careers incorporating personal values and social and/or environmental benefits.
Social Enterprise Career Areas
Social Enterprise is a broad category defining a number of careers that span several different industries. A brief description of various social enterprise areas is provided online. The common uniting thread is the desire to blend business skills and personal values to achieve social, environmental and economic value.
Social Enterprise issues also arise in traditional for-profit careers (and cut across functional areas, such as strategy, operations, finance, marketing, accounting, and human resources), providing MBAs with opportunities to serve on boards or special commissions, enter public-private partnerships, and help companies become more socially responsible. Given the increasing level of public interest and scrutiny of corporate actions, keeping up to date with social enterprise issues will become increasingly relevant in the pursuit of for-profit careers.
One of the advantages of being at Columbia University is access to NYC and the opportunity for MBA students to attend and organize events that draw upon participants and speakers from a wide array of international and US-based organizations. The Social Enterprise Club (SEC), Green Business Club (GBC), other student clubs, the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and the Career Management Center organize a number of career events both jointly and independently throughout the year to help career seekers in the social enterprise sector. Previous career events held at Columbia include the Annual Social Enterprise Conference, summer internship panels, alumni panels and networking events, mentoring groups, speakers and panels focusing on career areas within Social Enterprise and issues common to a number of areas.
The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and the Social Enterprise Club share the same email list that is available to current Social Enterprise students and Columbia Business School alumni only. This is the primary method by which students, faculty and administrators share information on career events and job leads.
Independent and Pro Bono Consulting Projects
Columbia’s location offers unparalleled opportunities to integrate career interests with course-related projects—both core courses and electives that are explicitly or implicitly related to social enterprise, as well as “independent studies” that are supervised by business school faculty. New York is an ideal base to find domestic and international organizations for course projects and pro bono consulting assignments. These activities can cover areas including marketing, finance and accounting, strategic planning, organizational development, operations and technology.
The integration of career interests with coursework helps students develop contacts and hands-on experience in a target area, while also providing opportunities to create a positive impact for the community. Organizations benefit from the business-consulting skills and experience of MBA students working on these projects. Examples of past projects are available on the Experiential Learning section of the Tamer Center’s website.
Volunteer activities also provide ample opportunities for students to find and work with Social Enterprise organizations. Common favorites include the Small Business Consulting Program, which matches nonprofits to student consulting teams, the Global Social Venture Competition, and volunteer activities organized by groups such as the Harlem Tutorial Program of Columbia, I-Prep, and The Financial Education Society. For these and other volunteer resources, please visit here.
Organizations looking to find MBA students for pro-bono consulting projects can find further information here.
Finding Jobs and Internships
Although a number of social enterprise recruiters come on campus, the majority of social enterprise positions are found via faculty and alumni, independent networking, internal job postings, Net Impact, LinkedIn and MBA Nonprofit Connection postings. Social enterprise students have typically found the most effective way to identify job openings is via the first two methods. Columbia University also hosts a nonprofit careers fair open to all graduate and undergraduate students.
Organizations looking to recruit or participate in career events, can find further information here.
Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program
The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program provides support to students engaged in summer internships that create social and environmental value. Fellowships take place in the U.S. or abroad at nonprofit, government or nongovernmental organizations, for-profit and nonprofit social ventures, and social venture capital firms. MBA students seeking to transition between sectors, industries, and functional areas use the summer to apply their business skills and explore social enterprise areas. Fellows help organizations across a range of projects and issues, including strategic planning, start-up business plan development, marketing and product strategies, financial analysis, operational improvements, and performance evaluation.
Learn more about the program here.
Loan Assistance Program
The Columbia Business School Loan Assistance Program aims to encourage MBAs to take management and leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors. The program is designed to help alleviate the financial burden associated with repaying education loans while pursuing a career in these sectors, which typically pay lower salaries but have unmet needs that Columbia Business School graduates are able to address. The Loan Assistance Program was made possible by a gift from the Class of 2005, and originated from the Guenther Family Public and Nonprofit Assistance Grant, a program established in 1998 which awarded post-graduation grants to MBAs entering the public and nonprofit sectors. The Program is jointly administered by the Office of Financial Aid and the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School.
Learn more about the program here.
Further Career Resources
More details on specific career resources are available to Columbia MBA students and alumni only, in the Career section of the Tamer Center’s website. There is a helpful “Resources” section, which covers areas including:
- General social enterprise questions, advice and career counseling;
- Overview of the social enterprise field and the type of positions available to MBAs;
- Making networking contacts and calls;
- Finding social enterprise job postings;
- Information on specific social enterprise organizations; and
- Typical salaries in the social enterprise field