An opportunity of a lifetime

An interesting side effect of the global recession on graduating college students – more are considering taking time to get engaged in public service. A recent article in the Boston Globe observes

Instead of going straight into a 100-hour-a-week job at an investment bank, they are pursuing less lucrative but potentially more satisfying opportunities in public service, enrolling in record numbers in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America.

In that article Harvard President, Drew Gilpin Faust observed.
“The path to Wall Street was so clearly defined, so if you weren’t sure what direction to go, this direction was filled with signposts and rewards,” Faust said in an interview. “But we are seeing two historic moments converge: this extraordinary financial crisis and this outpouring of interest in the public sphere.”

Faust said she hopes to tap alumni connections and join with other colleges to set up a recruitment process for public service that mirrors the way the corporate world woos students.

Sasha Dichter of the Acumen Fund ruminates in in his blog post The Other 690 :

Acumen Fund and other organizations in our sector are currently experiencing overwhelming levels of interest.  One data point that I mentioned on the panel: for the 10 summer internship positions Acumen Fund has open globally, we received 700 applications from an amazing group of candidates.  We’re going to do our best to find the 10 people who are the best fit for our needs this summer, but the bigger, harder question is, “What about the other 690?”

He has a couple of interesting thoughts

What if some of the economic stimulus money were used to create a new Global Peace Corps, one that takes some of the best and brightest people of all ages from around the world and gives them opportunities to work on projects (private and public) that are creating positive social change?

What if all of the 690 people who applied to Acumen Fund’s summer internship – plus their colleagues who are interested in working at Endeavor and Root Capital and the World Resources Institute and the International Aids Vaccine Initiative and the Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation and a hundred other fascinating places to work – created vibrant, online communities on Ning or Facebook or Twitter or through NetImpact to share their own entrepreneurial business ideas, and what if the best of these ideas were made available to early-stage investors and grantmakers and social venture competitions run by business schools around the world?

It is time to seize the opportunty and channel this energy into positive impact. How can we proceed ?

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One response to “An opportunity of a lifetime

  1. I am currently interning for http://www.socialinvestments.com, a network for social businesses. Before this internship, I knew the first step out of college was Wall Street and then graduate school after which I would find my future occupation. Social Investments specializes in creating a community for social businesses and helping them succeed. This opportunity has made me reevaluate my future goals. In twenty years I don’t want to look back and say, I have created a lot of wealth for myself without benefiting society. I would agree the societal shift is occurring. Do you think this is a long term change or just a new fad?

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