Carnegie Mellon University

net impact

November 11, 2019

Net Impact Explores Revitalization of Detroit

The Net Impact MBA student club visited socially impactful companies in Detroit, Michigan, as part of their annual career trek this fall.

During their fall break in October, Tepper School of Business MBA students involved with the Carnegie Mellon University chapter of Net Impact traveled to Detroit, Michigan, to participate in the organization’s annual conference and visit with companies as part of a career trek. 

With a strong network of recruiters, the Tepper School offers MBA students ample opportunity to connect with potential employers right from the start of their MBA journeys. Starting in the fall semester, student clubs host “treks” to major cities across the U.S. to connect with companies and alumni in various industries and functions.

“Career treks are a significant resource for MBA students to gain valuable insights and make important contacts within industries of interest,” said Stephen Rakas, Executive Director of the Masters Career Center. “The treks provide invaluable networking opportunities and we’re pleased to support our student organizations each year in building strong, lasting connections to our Tepper alumni network and the broader business community.”

On a career trek, students visit companies that partner with the Tepper School to recruit MBA interns and graduates, as well as other leading companies of interest to the students. They may also attend social gatherings to connect with alumni and industry leaders in the area to learn more about the city and build their professional networks. 

Sustainable Business Practice

Net Impact is a global organization dedicated to empowering future leaders to drive social and environmental change in the business sector. Chapters at universities in more than 40 countries support students in their leadership growth and help them secure internships and employment with companies that share the organization’s values.

“Net Impact adds an extra perspective on top of what we might see as a strict business education,” first-year MBA student Prashant Jayaraman said. “It helps students understand the implications of business practice beyond a sole focus on the bottom line, making sure that we understand that profit might not necessarily be the only indicator of success as we go forward in the future.”

Each year, the Net Impact Conference brings together industry leaders with professional and student chapters for networking opportunities, workshops, and presentations covering such topics as environmental sustainability, social equity, and community development. “This year’s conference being in Detroit was particularly special,” Jayaraman said. “The story of Detroit meshes really well with Net Impact’s mission, looking at what has happened to that city and where it’s going.”

This year’s Net Impact Conference also saw the Carnegie Mellon chapter win the organization’s Graduate Chapter of the Year recognition, winning out of 180 peer chapters from around the world. “The second-years were instrumental in earning this recognition,” Jayaraman said, citing the programs that the club hosted last year. Club president Greg Hershman submitted a video celebrating these activities, which played while he accepted the award at the opening gala of the conference.

Mission-Driven Careers

Student leaders of the Tepper School chapter, including Hershman and vice president of finance Hannah Poulson, both second-year MBA students, organized visits with Detroit companies dedicated to the city’s revitalization. One such business was Rivian, a producer of electric passenger trucks. “Rivian was at the top of our list because of its mission to help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and more sustainable transportation infrastructure,” Jayaraman said. The visit was coordinated with the support of Anusha Atluri (MBA 2019), Technical Project Manager at Rivian. 

The club also visited two startup accelerators — Ponyride and Build Institute — that focus on empowering underprivileged populations. In addition, Jayaraman connected Net Impact with Rock Ventures, a firm started by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert to invest in Detroit through real estate, community investments, and economic development in the city. “One thing that I found really helpful about this trek is that I think it showed ways in which we can deploy our MBA education in almost charitable ways outside of our normal work,” Jayaraman said. “These places really stood out as very impactful organizations that are doing their best to empower people who haven’t necessarily had that level of support before, and really have shown how we can help others succeed.”

Like any trek, Jayaraman said, the fall Net Impact trek gave Tepper MBA students the opportunity to meet face to face with leaders at companies where they might be interested in pursuing an internship or full-time career. He noted a dual benefit: Students have the opportunity to demonstrate their interest and knowledge to potential employers, and they can also learn more about the company and industry to determine if it is a good fit. 

“Net Impact in particular is very helpful for those of us who might want a more mission-driven career, one that extends far beyond the typical parameters of success in business,” Jayaraman said.