Net Impact Soap Box

Saturday, October 4, 2008

International@Social Impact

The continuum of social change is incomplete without an international perspective. Hence the Net Impact club organized a panel discussion of students to share their views and experiences of international development opportunities at Haas. The panel discussion reinforced my belief that problem solving at ground level is the emphasis of the international experience at Haas.

The panelists discussed their experiences of the International Business Development (IBD) program, the Mayfield fellowship, Management of Technology (MOT) trips to Asia, Social Enterprise Education Design (SEED) fellowship and the Blum international research fellowship and international internships.

Megan Ryskamp and Lissa Wilson talked about their IBD consulting assignments in El Salvador and Africa respectively. Megan said that her interactions with her fellow team mates on the 3 week engagement in El Salvador taught her more about strategy and consulting than she had learnt in another formal setting. What struck me the most was that it worked wonderfully for her as immediately after the IBD tour she started her internship with British Telecom in London and was able to apply her learning of IBD to her internship in corporate strategy at BT.

Lissa Wilson said she decided to take the 10 day study tour to India as India was one of the least likely places she would visit on her own. I am glad I listened to Lissa talk about her experience as it helped me make up my mind to apply for the study trip to Brazil. As an international student coming from India, I realized that this may well be my best chance to go to Brazil – a country which I wanted to visit since the Brazilian government developed programs to attract Indian farmers to cultivate land in Brazil!

Jon Burns, a Mayfield fellow said that “the Mayfield fellows program was a great fit for my entrepreneurial goals”. Jon was a part of the eight member team that went on a two week visit to Asia. Jon’s satisfaction in his choice of Mayfield fellows rubbed on to many present including me as his specific focus areas allowed him to seamlessly combine the objective of social impact with technology in an international setting.

Panelists Nadia Madden, a SEED and Blum fellow, Michael Martin and James Platts too shared their experiences with those present. One thing that was equivocally stated by all panelists was that the international experience truly added value by exposing them to new cultures and different ways of doing business. But it also challenged them to work in in difficult and unfamiliar environments making them better team players and winning them great friends for life –the most cherished takeaway of the panel’s international experience. I think attending the panel discussion has made me articulate my own takeaways from the international opportunities I want to pursue and yes a bunch of great friends definitely makes the list.

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