"They just bring a sense of positive energy," Brown says. "They also bring a happiness quotient to our organization. When they're there, the room changes a bit. They elevate everybody's sense of doing the work."
Besides the board fellows programs, some business schools such as Stanford and University of North Carolina offer a nonprofit management certificate that M.B.A.'s can earn in addition to their chosen concentration. Yet the focus of the business school curriculum is still the traditional finance and management courses.
"We're not emphasizing nonprofit careers," Stepanek says. "What we do emphasize is nonprofit board service."
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Encouraging students to serve on nonprofit boards during graduate school reinforces the idea that M.B.A. graduates have an obligation to serve their communities once they enter the business world. At Babson College's F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, for example, the board fellows program is open to alumni who decided to wait until they graduated to serve on a nonprofit board.
"Our thinking is that at Babson, once you're part of our community, you're always part of our community," says Emily Weiner, assistant director of the Babson Social Innovation Lab. "Some of our students don't have time to participate until they're finished with their M.B.A."
David Andros, who participated in Cornell's board fellowship program, has already chosen the organization he will volunteer with once he starts a consulting position at McKinsey & Co. in Pittsburgh after graduating in May. A U.S. Army veteran who spent two years in Iraq, Andros plans to serve as a mentor at the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania and eventually hopes to join its board of directors.
"I really want to be part of nonprofit work going forward, post-M.B.A.," Andros says."The board fellows program was a very valuable way for me to get exposure to this nonprofit landscape."
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