January 30th marked the kick-off of the Social Enterprise Club’s (SEC) pilot mentorship program. The social was attended by amazing individuals working to sustain poor communities, improve the environment and educate needy children. And these were your fellow students!
The night also hosted accomplished HBS alumni from the non-profit and socially-oriented for-profit sector with interests ranging from the arts and humanities to education and economic development. Sixteen student/mentor partners, aligned by common interests, planted the seeds for what are likely to become mutually rewarding, ongoing relationships.
The SEC mentorship program grew out of the desire to enhance the school’s Social Enterprise Initiative by providing a means for students and alumni to network, share ideas and support one another. Overwhelming interest in the new program from students and Boston-area alumni suggests that this program is poised for national roll-out in years to come.
For the students, a mentor is more than just a launch pad for a networked job search. Particularly for students interested in the non-traditional career in social enterprise, an experienced guide can be an invaluable source of inspiration, learning, constructive criticism and encouragement. Jesse Souweine (NA) spoke of the benefits of having “another adult beyond the professors and faculty” take interest in her career.
Participating alumni benefit as well. Many shared their wish that they had had help navigating the social sector when they were students at HBS. And those lucky enough to have had a mentor early in their careers expressed excitement for the ability to “pay it forward” by becoming mentors themselves. The program also offers an outlet for the mentors to interact with each other and build upon their existing ties within the intimate Boston social enterprise community.
Throughout the semester, The Harbus will feature profiles of participating alumni written by their student partners. The first article in the series will feature 1998 graduate Daniel Ennis, a member of the SEC advisory board and a McKinsey consultant to non-profit and government organizations, including CEOs for Cities, City of Boston, Bureau of Municipal Research and CityYear. Future profiles will include equally interesting tales of social entrepreneurs, venture philanthropists, community developers and fundraisers.
The student/mentor partners will formally meet again at a second social scheduled for April 17th. In the meantime and hopefully throughout their careers, their relationships will develop on an informal and ongoing basis.
We thought our socially-inclined classmates were already using their business skills to improve the world; but, it will be exciting to see what they can accomplish with the added guidance of an experienced mentor. We will be able to measure the impact when they return as HBS alumni mentors to “pay it forward”.