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Is your organization facing managerial or structural changes? Are there major strategic projects that need to be addressed? Do you lack the time and people to address significant projects that you need to complete?

If so, consider the value that a Columbia MBA can bring to your organization. Columbia MBA students typically have 4 to 5 years of work experience in diverse functional areas and sectors. Accustomed to achieving high impact results under tight timeframes, MBA students are infused with the desire to make a significant contribution during the course of their fellowship.

The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program at Columbia Business School connects the energy and talent of Columbia MBA students to nonprofit, public, or social venture organizations. Students contribute their expertise to management level projects across a range of functional areas including marketing, operations, strategy, finance, human resources, and research.

Summer Fellowship Criteria

The Summer Fellowship Program supports internships that have a high probability of success for the employer and the student. 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.)


To attract the best candidates, host organizations should structure the intern’s responsibilities to:


  • 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.


Employers are expected to contribute $600 to $1,000 per week to the intern’s salary. 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, depending on availability of funds.


As a general rule, a high level of financial commitment by the host organization helps to attract the best MBA candidates possible. Also, the greater the amount of financial support provided by each employer, the larger is 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.

Duration of Summer Internship

The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Fund supports internships for 6–10 weeks. Funding for internships longer than 10 weeks should be discussed with the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise.

Columbia Business School 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. These internships should be full-time, but on a short-term basis. Students can make a significant contribution to an organization in a short period of time, 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.

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.

Recruiting Strategies

Students begin to consider summer internships at the start of the academic year in September. As a result, we encourage organizations to consider their summer internship needs as early as possible. Some prospective social enterprise employers post job opportunities in the fall to reach the largest pool of applicants possible, though organizations continue recruiting well into the spring semester.

Organizations that anticipate hiring a summer intern, but are not prepared to formally advertise the internship, can begin to cultivate relationships with applicants, through information sessions, panel discussions, round table lunches, student club events, or introductory emails that highlight the potential needs of the organization during the summer. Current and prospective employers can also attend the annual Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program Reception at the end of the summer, to meet past Fellows and connect with first year students. Some social enterprise employers also participate in Columbia Business School’s structured on-campus recruiting program. Please see the Career Management Center website for details.

For the widest distribution to Columbia MBA students, summer internships, and full-time opportunities should be posted on the Career Management Center’s job posting website.

Offers of summer internships can be made in the fall semester, though the peak time begins in February and continues into May.

Application Process for the Summer Fellowship Program

The process of applying to the Summer Fellowship Program for financial support begins after students receive the offer from the host organization. A completed application will include a copy of the offer letter detailing compensation (financial and in-kind) and the duration of employment. Students will also ask the host organization to complete an employer information form (see below). The completed form in conjunction with the students’ application essay (see below) should provide a complete picture of the summer internship position.

Students are responsible for shepherding the application process and are expected to submit all components of the application including the employer information form. First-year students can begin submitting applications March 1st. Second-year students can begin submitting applications May 31st. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 15 or until funds are no longer available.

Employers with Summer Fellows will be asked to provide feedback about the intern to the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at the end of the summer.

Additional Questions for the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

For detailed descriptions of past Social Enterprise Summer Fellows and their projects, please visit MBA’s Creating Value.

Employers with questions about the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program, or who would like advice about summer internship job descriptions can contact theTamer Center for Social Enterprise:

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Center Brochure

View the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise brochure, Empowering Leaders to Change the World