Giving students a chance to give back

Sloan Non-Profit Internship Fund enables students to apply skills in the public and nonprofit sectors

Students at work in a makeshift school in one of the many villages ravaged by the 2004 tsunami Photo: students in a village she visited are at work in a makeshift school.

The Sloan Non-Profit Internship Fund, or “SNIF” as it is affectionately known to students, supports MBA candidates who opt to intern in the public or nonprofit sectors during the summer between their first and second years.

Established in 2001, the fund has enabled dozens of students to gain experience working for nonprofit organizations all over the world, without the financial stress it might normally involve. And since its inception the fund has increasingly become an integral part of the MIT Sloan experience.

For students, funded by students

One of the most interesting aspects of the internship fund is that it is student run and almost entirely student funded.

MBA student Nathalie Butcher, a recipient of the Sloan Non-Profit Internship Fund Photo: Because of the Sloan Non-Profit Internship Fund, MBA student Nathalie Butcher was able to help villages ravaged by the 2004 tsunami.

Dina Goldstein, MBA student liaison for the fund, explains that “every year students pledge a percentage of their summer internship salaries, usually between one and five percent, and that money goes into the fund that supplies the sources for the next year's students.”

In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the yearly MIT Sloan charity auction go toward the fund, as well as support from other offices and organizations around the School. And with more money in the fund now than ever before and four times the number of applicants this year compared to last, it is clear that student involvement and dedication are on the rise.

Part of the appeal is the opportunity the fund provides for students to see the beneficial results their work can have. Last year alone, the fund enabled students to put their skills to work for such world-stage players as Ashoka, United in Diversity, and Endeavor Global.

Goldstein explains that across the board students returned from their internships feeling they had left a meaningful mark on the world.

“We have pretty strict criteria for what we are looking for and one of them is that the project the students will be working on for the summer is really well defined and will take MBA skills ... the idea is that they are going to feel the impact because it is mission based.”

A chance to make a difference

Student Nathalie Butcher is a perfect example. Moved by the tragedy of the tsunami in 2004, she was looking for ways to apply her knowledge and skills to the problem when she realized that there was a need for people to run the supply lines in Indonesia. She met with MIT Sloan Senior Associate Dean Alan White and within 24 hours had an internship working for United in Diversity in Jakarta.

It was a chance to make a difference, she says, and she couldn't have managed without the tuition-reimbursement scholarship she received from the fund.

“Jobs and experiences like this often don't pay very much and in my case don't pay anything all,” she says, “... and as a student, it is very difficult to justify taking that long of a period when you are already spending $50,000, $60,000, or $70,000 a year to go to school. ... The SNIF fund makes it possible for people who want to do something good with their summer to not have to pay for it as well.”

Support grows, appeal widens

Anastasia Semienko, class of 2007's SNIF student liaison, stresses that the fund is not only for those students who plan on dedicating their entire careers to the non-profit sector. Another goal of the program, she says, “is to encourage students who may not have thought of entering nonprofit or taking an internship in the nonprofit sector to do so.”

Each year the fund is appealing to a wider and wider group of students.

“It is definitely a positive feature of the MIT Sloan community and it is becoming increasingly positive as it grows,” says Goldstein. “I think that we've seen just within the past year that there is an increasing amount of support and interest in programs like this and through that interest we have been able to become more involved with the faculty and staff and other departments and sections within the MIT community.

“So I think as the program grows, as the fund grows, and we are able to sponsor more and more students over the summer, that the experiences that those students have in their internships will in turn help draw more like-minded students in to MIT Sloan.”

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