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As my first quarter of business school comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on the self-exploration and growth that has happened in such a short period of time, much of which can be attributed to the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation and its Chart Your Path to Social Impact workshop.  

Rani Patel

I have always been passionate about finding purpose in everything I do. As a public health undergraduate major, I spent a lot of time studying issues from a community lens. Coming to business school, I knew my interest in social impact would drive my journey. What I did not expect was the resources, like Chart Your Path, that would help frame it.

Offered in the Fall 2019 Quarter, Chart Your Path was designed for students who are interested in social impact but are wondering where to start. Led by Caroline Grossman, ’03, director of programs at the Rustandy Center and adjunct assistant professor of strategy at Booth, the workshop helped us explore our passions, match programs to tackle those passions, and then map the path to impact.  

I immediately wanted to participate in this exercise because, while I knew I wanted my business school experience to be heavily focused in the social sector, I didn’t know specifically what that meant or how to tangibly create that experience.  

After asking myself tough, introspective questions, I was able to better understand my passions. I learned that the social sector is comprised of a multitude of industries, such as education or climate change, and avenues, including consulting, mission-driven organizations, and foundations.  

Chart Your Path helped me realize my primary interest was in food sustainability and that I wanted to use impact investing as a means to tackle it. I knew this passion would be ever-evolving, but I finally felt like I had a specific interest to get started on my journey.  

I used what I learned and identified four specific opportunities with clear routes to impact for my time at Booth: hands-on learning, coursework, internships, and ad-hoc learning. First, I enrolled in the Total Impact Portfolio Competition and the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training, team-based case competitions in impact investing.  

Second, I identified courses I plan to take that would build my general knowledge in the social sector space: Global Social Impact Practicum and Social Sector Strategy and Structure.  

Third, I joined BrewBike, a student-run coffee shop and finalist in the 2018 Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), as their sustainability manager to explore my passion for food sustainability outside of Booth.  

Last but not least, I found opportunities to deep-dive into specific issues in the social sector through the Rustandy Center’s Perspectives in Sustainability and Perspectives in Social Entrepreneurship series, sessions that explore challenges facing our planet and various methods for tackling these issues.  

While I have charted my path to social impact for the next two years and how I hope to leverage the resources at Booth, I am even more excited about how I will be able to use these experiences for social impact work in a career beyond Booth.  

Maybe I’ll become an impact investor, or maybe I’ll start a sustainable food product line. The possibilities are endless, but what I do know is that I will always have my experience at Booth to frame my journey.

Rani Patel is a first-year student in Booth's Full-time MBA Program.

Are you interested in exploring your potential social impact pathways with the Rustandy Center? Get in touch.