Making An Impact
Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, which has now made its way past DC, we had a few days off from school and other obligations which gave me time to catch up on two very important tasks: 1) watching True Blood episodes on HBO Demand and 2) my blog writing. Since I have now successfully completed 6 episodes in a row, I think it is time for some of that writing….
This past weekend, 30 AU graduate students, mostly from the Kogod School of Business, attended the Net Impact conference in Baltimore. Net Impact is a national organization composed of individuals that are using or plan to use business skills to “work for good.” Since I realize working for good is a bit ambiguous, let me try again –-the annual conference is meant to bring like-minded individuals and Net Impact chapters from across the country together with industry experts to discuss the current trends in corporate impact, environmental sustainability, impact investing, international development, social innovation, and community development. Given the proximity of the conference to DC this year, as well as AU’s tendency to attract students interested in these areas, our AU Net Impact chapter was able to recruit a good number of members to the conference.
The weekend was full of workshops, networking, informative panels, and fascinating keynotes given by individuals who have made dramatic impact on the social sector. During the opening panel, where former Net Impact board leaders read passages about how far the organization had advanced over the years, we had a great surprise—one of the panelists, Kellee James, was a Kogod MBA grad! Among other accomplishments, Kellee was appointed a White House fellow by President Barack Obama and founded Mercaris, a market service and trading platform for organic and certified sustainable agricultural commodities. It was inspiring to see such an accomplished alumna on the conference-wide opening panel!
My favorite speaker was University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) President, Freeman A. Hrabowski. He was incredibly engaging and spoke about both his involvement as a child leader in the Civil Rights Movement when he was imprisoned at the young age of 12, as well as his role in transforming UMBC into a leading math and science university. He called on all attendees to serve as role models and mentors in the movement to advance the prominence of math and science among young students. As Freeman noted, the US needs a stronger focus on math and science in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace.
I love the Net Impact conference because it is a place where I run into people from various stages of my life. I have run into former co-workers, undergraduate classmates, and StartingBloc colleagues that I met in NYC while participating in the fellowship. This year I ran into two colleagues from the Mayoral Fellowship, my former supervisor at CDC Development Solutions, and my former hiring manager at AED!
Where I really got the most out of the conference was at the Expo. Companies from around the country came and exhibited, and many were hiring. I enjoyed speaking with the individuals representing their companies and learning about how they secured a job in social responsibility as well as about what types of jobs are available at their companies in that space.
On Friday night, AU Net Impact hosted a happy hour as part of the conference at an Irish pub. We mixed and mingled with each other, our wonderful career advisers, and students from other universities attending the conference. It was a great way to wind down after a day of learning and networking with leaders and corporations.
Some of us stayed Saturday night to celebrate Halloween in style aboard the Urban Pirate ship that toured around the Baltimore Harbor. We were led by the ship’s pirates in games such as limbo, and had to speak in pirate talk. At one point they even sent an “enemy pirate” around in a motorboat so we could practice our cannon shooting skills, which seems like probably one of the most difficult jobs in the area.
Now that the hurricane has passed, and the conference is over, I’m ready to get back to the routine. I am also excited to see my classmates and get out of this apartment! Until next time…