Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship

Thinking about a summer internship in the nonprofit or public-sector?

Wondering how the experience might meet your goals and interests?

Have questions about fellowship funding? Jesse Souweine, Vice President of Careers for the Social Enterprise Club, sat down with Margot Dushin, Associate Director of the Initiative on Social Enterprise, who oversees the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship program.

Harbus: What is the HBS Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship program?

MD: Through the program, HBS provides financial support to current MBA students who choose to work in nonprofit and public sector organizations during the summer. Students who have a job offer can apply for funding that supplements the salaries provided by hiring organizations. Since 1982, over 400 students have participated in the program, and we expect to support many students again this year. The Fellowship will have approximately 68 open spots (the exact number will depend on award amount to students, which is calculated by number of weeks and weekly fellowship amount). Students can check the student website or with the Initiative on Social Enterprise for the status of available funding at any time in the cycle.

Harbus: What are the program goals?

MD: HBS graduates play important roles in the social sector – as volunteers and board members, as business leaders, and as full-time employees at nonprofit or public-sector organizations. The fellowships allow students to pursue their interests in social enterprise as they prepare for these roles. The specific program goals are:

o To enable students to take jobs in nonprofit and public enterprises where their HBS training will provide significant benefits to the organization and the community it serves;

o To expose students to the rewards and challenges of public and nonprofit management;

o To enrich the HBS community and the quality of the MBA education by increasing the number of students with experience in the nonprofit and public sectors.

In talking to students before and after their experience, I’ve seen that their own goals for the summer are broad and impressive. Some are exploring a specific field such as the arts or environment or exploring specific issues in nonprofit management such as nonprofit replication and expansion. Many are drawn to the opportunity to work with senior leadership and apply or develop skills they’ve learned in the classroom in areas such as finance or marketing. While some are determining if working at a nonprofit would be an appropriate long- term career decision, others want to gain familiarity with the sector for other future forms of involvement like board membership or involvement as business leaders. In almost all cases, students’ goals for the summer have been met or exceeded.

Harbus: What is a typical summer experience?

MD: There is no one typical experience. Organizations with summer internships represent everything from education to international relief to community development. Just a few examples of the experiences: one student developed a strategic planning process for Denali National Park and Preserve; another framed and developed a venture philanthropic portfolio that focuses on investing in civic enterprises in Egypt and Pakistan; another helped to determine the future strategy of the Cause Marketing Business Unit at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute; and two worked for the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President to create a business plan for that country’s struggling private sector. The common factor is a chance to apply skills in a complex management environment, while having high responsibility and high impact.

Harbus: What are the steps to apply for fellowship funding?

MD: Students should first find a qualifying job, which could include Job Bank postings or a position they find on their own, then complete and submit an application. All eligibility requirements and criteria, as well as the application, are available online. The review dates are March through May, with notification usually within 2 weeks, and fellowships are awarded on a rolling, funds-available basis.

More information on the Fellowship Program can be found online:

March 10, 2003
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