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Student Information

As an MBA student, your summer experience is a pivotal opportunity to apply theories and tools from the class room in a practical setting. Social Enterprise Summer Fellows explore new opportunities and deepen existing interests by contributing to organizations that provide fresh challenges and responsibilities, while striving to create positive social change.

Student eligibility

To be considered for a Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship you must have completed at least one term of core MBA courses. First- and second-year students, including those that will graduate in May are welcome to apply. Priority is given to first-year students. While the fund does not support part-time internships, students enrolled in the summer semester are eligible to receive funding for full-time mini-internships lasting 2 weeks or more, assuming funds are still available. Please note that funding for mini-internships is only available to January-term students enrolled in summer semester courses.

Duration of summer internship

The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program supports full-time internships for 6–10 weeks. Funding for internships longer than 10 weeks should be discussed with the Social Enterprise Program.

January-term students enrolled in courses during the summer semester are eligible to receive funding for mini-internships lasting 2 weeks or more, assuming funds are still available. Students can make a significant contribution to an organization by working full-time on a short-term basis, on a tightly scoped issue. Mini-internships might involve performing market segmentations, conducting an independent budget or financial plan analysis, researching technology solutions, or analyzing competitor or benchmarking data. Students participating in mini-internships are subject to identical guidelines, responsibilities, and expectations as other student fellows, and should use the application below.

At a minimum, students are expected to work Monday through Friday for at least 35 hours per week. Part-time work during the summer is not eligible for funding. Students must not work for two employing organizations concurrently. 

Eligible Organizations

The employing organization can be a nonprofit 501(c)(3) (or its equivalent outside the U.S.), NGO, public sector organization, for-profit social venture, or social venture capital firm with a clearly defined social or environmental purpose incorporated into the core reason for operation – evident in both mission and practice. Eligible for-profit organizations include:

  1. Low-profit limited liability companies (L3C);
  2. Microfinance or non-bank financial institutions that focus on low-income customers; and
  3. Social purpose for-profit ventures or businesses (including B-Corporations) producing products and/or services that:
    1. focus on addressing the needs of low income communities or customers, with an explicit purpose of increasing the welfare of these groups; or alleviate a market failure, and create significant public goods or benefits that are not wholly captured in the price charged by the business; and
    2. have attracted funding for the business by investors or grant makers who are seeking measurable social or environmental impacts (evidence of these metrics and reporting should be included in the application).

Students who apply for support when working with for-profit organizations in these last three categories must provide detailed evidence of the organization’s clearly defined social or environmental purpose and how this is incorporated into the core strategies and operations of the business.

Students interested in working for social ventures should assess the viability of the venture prior to applying for funding. This fund does not cover students working on their own ventures, as students can access other programs and resources via the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center. Positions with large or publicly listed companies and with for-profit consulting firms that consult to nonprofits, public sector, or other social/environmental organizations are ineligible. Organizations with a narrow political or religious focus or with discriminatory hiring policies will be excluded from eligibility.

Criteria and Selection

The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program supports internships that have a high probability of success for the student and the employer. Employers are expected to invest time and resources into structuring and managing the activities of the summer fellow. In return, they receive the skills of a dedicated MBA student who can focus on challenging projects for the organization. For students, this is an opportunity to expand their experience, apply their MBA training, and explore career possibilities.

Summer fellowships must meet the following criteria:

  • The Internship description is well-scoped, has clearly defined expectations and deliverables, and identifies the supervisor that the student will be reporting to;
  • Activities and projects require the use of MBA skills and knowledge. The position should not be one that could be filled by an undergraduate or non-MBA intern;
  • Deliverables are challenging yet realistic and have a meaningful impact on the host organization;
  • Students have mid- and end-of-summer reviews with the supervisor; and
  • The employing organization provides a sufficient commitment by funding the internship to the maximum of its ability. (Employers are asked to contribute a minimum of $600 per week. Exceptions and salary expectations are described below.)

In evaluating summer fellowships, students should also look for opportunities that:

  • Provide access to senior-level management and mentors;
  • Expose students to issues that help them better understand the organization beyond their set tasks; and
  • Include interns at meetings and seminars that give them a broad view of the industry.

The summer provides an important opportunity to gain practical experience before reentering the work force. The greater the effort put into identifying and vetting the internship, the higher the likelihood of a successful summer fellowship experience.

Compensation

Students can expect to receive a maximum salary of $1,200 per week, depending on availability of funds. Employers are expected to contribute a minimum salary of $600 to $1000 per week. This amount may include in-kind support such as housing and transportation. Exceptions to this rule are made on a case by case basis. The Summer Fellowship Program at Columbia Business School contributes $200 to $600 per week for up to 10 weeks (funding beyond 10 weeks is subject to availability).

The greater the amount of financial support provided by each employer, the larger the number of student fellows and organizations that the Summer Fellowship Program can support. Organizations unable to meet the minimum contribution may be asked to submit supporting documentation, such as an operating budget or salary schedules for other graduate-level interns.

If the employer will not contribute to the intern’s salary, the maximum award available to the fellow is $800 per week, depending on availability of funds. This option is not available for mini-internships.

Obligations

By accepting the fellowship, you are committing to the following obligations (the Program will review these obligations before the final payment):

1. wiki site for summer fellows, to be featured in the summer fellowships website: www.gsb.columbia.edu/socialenterprise/sesummerfellows;
and
2. Complete an end-of-summer fellowship survey.

You will also be asked to volunteer at least three hours to contribute to the spring fund raising campaign. This may involve:

  • Writing a short article describing your experience for the Bottom Line, the Social Enterprise Program, or School’s website and/or newsletter;
  • Assisting club leaders in outreach activities during the spring fund raising campaign;
  • Speaking with current and prospective students about your experience; and
  • Participating in activities promoting Social Enterprise Summer Internships, including but not limited to speaking at Career Management Center presentations and at information sessions for the Social Enterprise Program and relevant student clubs.

Application Process and Deadlines

You must have an offer for a full-time (Monday through Friday, 35 hours per week or more) summer position with an eligible organization before applying for a Fellowship. Once you have received an internship offer, the requirements of the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program should be discussed with the organization’s director or your potential supervisor. From the employing organization, you will need to provide a copy of the offer letter and a completed Employer Information Form. Applicants are expected to submit all requested materials, which include the completed student application, direct deposit form, tax certification, offer letter, and Employer Information Form. International students must also submit a W-8 form plus copy of passport and visa; all other students should submit a W-9 form. Second year students graduating in May must also submit a W-4 form. Please download this checklist (.xls file) to ensure your application is complete.

First-year students can begin submitting applications March 1st. Second-year students can begin submitting applications May 31st, assuming funds are still available. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 15 or until funds are no longer available. After April 15th a response can be expected within a week of submitting a completed application. Applications submitted early will be reviewed first. You must submit your completed application and be accepted into the summer fellowship program prior to starting your internship. January-term students are eligible for full time intersession internships in August and may submit applications on a rolling basis until July 20, assuming funds are still available. Students are expected to accept or decline funding within two weeks of receiving notice.

Payments

Students will be placed on Columbia University’s payroll and will be paid by check or direct deposit in monthly installments over the summer. The payment dates are typically July 1st, August 1st, and September 1st. Students must be approved and have submitted accurate and complete financial paperwork no later than June 1st to be eligible to receive payment July 1st. The obligations outlined above will be reviewed by the Program before the final installment is paid. January term students with mini-internships will be paid in one installment, upon submission of the internship report. The University will withhold taxes on payments for non-U.S. citizens and students graduating in the spring before their internship.

If you have questions about the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program, please contact the Social Enterprise Program: socialenterprise@gsb.columbia.edu.

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Program Brochure

View the Social Enterprise Program brochure, Empowering Leaders to Change the World

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