Gabriela Arismendi, a Neubauer Civic Scholar, reflects on her experience with the Booth Social Impact consulting program.
While course work itself can sometimes feel like more than enough to keep you busy as a part-time student at Booth, there are also a multitude of extracurricular activities that students can (and should) take advantage of. I can’t recommend the Booth Social Impact (BSI) Consulting projects highly enough. Every quarter, students have the opportunity to work as a team to provide pro-bono consulting services to a Chicago-area nonprofit organization. Projects last for just one quarter, but provide students with amazing hands-on learning experiences and provide the non-profit with invaluable and actionable insights.
For students thinking about pivoting into a career in consulting, this is a great place to get your feet wet. Through the project, you’ll learn to define a scope of work, conduct research, formulate recommendations, and present your deliverables. You’ll also develop the crucial soft skills of learning to work with your client and working together effectively as a consulting team. Each team is also paired with a Consulting Coach – a professional currently working in the field of consulting who mentors your team throughout the quarter.
Even if consulting isn’t in your career path, these projects provide students with exposure to various societal issues that are not always discussed in MBA courses, which is of great value if you are thinking about a career that focuses on positive social impact. Clients work in the areas of public services, microfinance, food insecurity, education and the environment, just to name a few. Even for those of us who have spent our careers in non-profit and government work, working on the BSI projects is a great learning experience. As a Civic Scholar, I bring my experience working in the nonprofit and government sectors to these projects but also have expanded my professional network within these sectors and learned from other organizations and situations.
I’ve loved that these projects allow you to apply the classroom learning that you engage in during your time as a Booth student to real world scenarios. Projects range from financial planning and new product development to marketing strategies and conducting competitive analyses. You can apply to work on projects in areas where you feel you are already an expert or on projects where you want to further develop your knowledge and skill base.
Most importantly, these projects serve as an opportunity for you to get to know and build relationships with more of your fellow Booth classmates. Teams combine evening and weekend students from various backgrounds. This allows you to learn from the differing experiences and perspectives of each of your teammates.
The projects that I have supported in the past have included: creating a data collection and reporting tool for a charter high school, analyzing donor data for a domestic violence nonprofit, developing messaging and pricing recommendations for an organization facilitating employee giving, and making marketing strategy recommendations for a violence interruption group. This quarter, I’m eager to start my fifth BSI Consulting project, where our team will be identifying strategies to target operational challenges for a local charter school management organization. I look forward to working with my new teammates to support this organization and the meaningful work they do.