Canada-wide • 2018-2022
Team: Cheralyn Chok, James Tansey
I wished I had a community of peers who were equally curious about using business as a force for good. There wasn't one, so I co-created it.
In business school, if you aren't interested in accounting, investment banking, or consulting, good luck - you'll have to to carve your own path. It was even more isolating if you, like me, were interested in a nascent field such as impact investing.
I interviewed 40 students to understand how they think about using what they're learning in school to effect change.
We asked students to categorize potential employers in two ways. First, how impactful is the organization? Second, would you like to start your career there if given the opportunity? We found weak correlation between a student's perception of an organization's impact and their desire to work there as the launching pad of their careers (r=0.2871, p=0.2081).
We heard were three recurring themes:
• Skills development is the most important factor for students' career decisions
• Unlike accounting or consulting, there isn't a clear career pathway working in sustainability
• It seems like everyone needs to work in a "traditional" job before qualifying for social impact jobs.
To better understand what constitutes a learning environment that is conducive for students to develop the skills required for impact careers, we ran a pilot in the summer of 2019 in four locations (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver).
Through the pilot, we made two key decisions: First, we narrowed our scope to developing programming focusing on two career pathways: impact investing and impact consulting. Second, the value of an apprenticeship model became clear - having a pre-internship training program would best set students up for success on the job.
Unlike medicine, law, or accounting, navigating a career path in climate change, poverty alleviation, education, and other impact areas can feel like a maze. At the same time, while students do care about creating social or environmental impact, skills development is a higher priority early on in their careers. The murkiness of a social impact career coupled with a perceived lack of skills development discourages students from pursuing such an alternative career path.
Propel is an experiential learning program that prioritizes building the critical and transferrable skills, and offers a clear career path towards working with impact investment funds and social enterprises.
112 participants (2019-2021), now at 400+
84% of summer interns were retained by their employer
77% working full-time in social innovation and impact investment roles
$750,000 raised to support our mission
Incorporating storytelling into hiring decisions
We were able to:
Ensure 84% of our participants were retained by their employer
Designing a curriculum is rooted in proper change-making principles
We were able to:
Help 77% of our participants continue working in a social innovation or impact investment role