Updates for Summer 2023:
- Based on student and employer feedback, we will be returning to the pre-COVID requirement of in-person internships co-located with the supervisor (except in exceptional circumstances). Please visit Columbia Global Travel for additional information on international travel.
As an MBA student, your summer experience is a pivotal opportunity to apply theories and tools from the classroom in a practical setting. Social Enterprise Summer Fellows explore new opportunities and deepen existing interests by contributing to organizations that provide fresh challenges and responsibilities, while striving to create positive social change.
The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program (formerly called CORPS Fellowship Program) was initiated in 1992 by MBA students. These fellowships enjoy strong Columbia Business School community support; and funds are raised from students every year during fellowship fundraising week with help from staff, faculty, alumni, and friends of the program. In addition, a gift from the Class of 2003 endowed around five internships for MBA students. This widespread support reflects the conviction that Columbia MBAs can make a significant contribution to the field of social enterprise. In 2015, with the creation of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, Columbia University students who wish to work full time over the summer with early- or later-stage social ventures are eligible to apply for a Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship. Around 70 summer fellows are supported each year.
Read more about the type of internships and value generated by our students working with leading organizations.
Questions? Contact Ivy Hatsengate: [email protected].
To be considered for a Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship you must have completed at least one term of core MBA courses. First- and second-year students, including those that will graduate in May are welcome to apply. Priority is given to first-year students. While the fund does not support part-time internships, students enrolled in the summer semester are eligible to receive funding for full-time mini-internships lasting 2 weeks or more, assuming funds are still available. Please note that funding for mini-internships is only available to January-term students enrolled in summer semester courses. Executive MBA students cannot participate in SESF while on the payroll of another employer.
Students should NOT be applying for both the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship and the Lang Center Summer Fellowship.
The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program supports full-time internships for 6–10 weeks. Funding for internships longer than 10 weeks should be discussed with the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise.
January-term 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. Students can make a significant contribution to an organization by working full-time on a short-term basis, 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, and should use the application below.
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.
The employing organization can be a nonprofit 501(c)(3) (or its equivalent outside the U.S.), NGO, public sector organization, for-profit social venture, or social venture capital firm with a clearly defined social or environmental purpose incorporated into the core reason for operation – evident in both mission and practice. Eligible for-profit organizations include:
- Low-profit limited liability companies (L3C);
- Microfinance or non-bank financial institutions that focus on low-income customers; and
- Social purpose for-profit ventures or businesses (including B-Corporations) producing products and/or services that:
a) focus on addressing the needs of low income communities or customers, with an explicit purpose of increasing the welfare of these groups; or alleviate a market failure, and create significant public goods or benefits that are not wholly captured in the price charged by the business; and
b) have attracted funding for the business by investors or grant makers who are seeking measurable social or environmental impacts (evidence of these metrics and reporting should be included in the application).
Students who apply for support when working with for-profit organizations in these last three categories must provide detailed evidence of the organization’s clearly defined social or environmental purpose and how this is incorporated into the core strategies and operations of the business.
Students interested in working for social ventures should assess the viability of the venture prior to applying for funding. This fund does not cover students working on their own ventures, as students can access other programs and resources via the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center. Positions with large or publicly listed companies and with for-profit consulting firms that consult to nonprofits, public sector, or other social/environmental organizations are ineligible. Organizations with a narrow political or religious focus or with discriminatory hiring policies will be excluded from eligibility.
Criteria and Selection
The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program supports internships that have a high probability of success for the student and the employer. 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.)
In evaluating summer fellowships, students should also look for opportunities that:
- 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.
The summer provides an important opportunity to gain practical experience before reentering the work force. The greater the effort put into identifying and vetting the internship, the higher the likelihood of a successful summer fellowship experience.
Students can expect to receive a maximum salary of $1,200 per week, depending on availability of funds. Employers are expected to contribute a minimum salary of $600 to $1000 per week. 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 (funding beyond 10 weeks is subject to availability).
The greater the amount of financial support provided by each employer, the larger 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.
If the employer will not contribute to the intern’s salary, the maximum award available to the fellow is $800 per week, depending on availability of funds. This option is not available for mini-internships.
By accepting the fellowship, you are committing to the following obligations (the Program will review these obligations before the final payment):
- Summary report and photos to be featured in the summer fellowships website;
- Completing an end-of-summer fellowship survey.
You will also be asked to volunteer at least three hours to contribute to the spring fund raising campaign. This may involve:
- Writing a short article describing your experience for the Bottom Line, the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, or School’s website and/or newsletter;
- Assisting club leaders in outreach activities during the spring fund raising campaign;
- Speaking with current and prospective students about your experience; and
- Participating in activities promoting Social Enterprise Summer Internships, including but not limited to speaking at Career Management Center presentations and at information sessions for the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and relevant student clubs.
Application Process and Deadlines
You must have an offer for a full-time (Monday through Friday, 35 hours per week or more) summer position with an eligible organization before applying for a Fellowship. Once you have received an internship offer, the requirements of the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program should be discussed with the organization’s director or your potential supervisor. From the employing organization, you will need to provide a copy of the offer letter and a completed Employer Information Form. Applicants are expected to submit all requested materials, which include the completed student application, tax forms (W-9 for U.S. persons, W-8BEN for foreign persons), offer letter, and Employer Information Form. International students must also submit a copy of passport ID page, page with stamp that shows first entry to USA, and visa (please refer to the ISSO website for more information).
If your internship is abroad, travel to a country destination which appears as a high medical or security risk on the Columbia Global Assistance Program's ISOS risk ratings page may be grounds for denial. If you are considering an opportunity in a high risk country, please contact the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise prior to applying, with more details on your summer location and to find out whether internships in this country can be supported. In addition, all fellows planning to travel must register their trip on Columbia's travel registry system, prior to traveling.
You must submit all application materials AT LEAST one week in advance of starting your summer internship. First-year MBA students can begin submitting applications March 1. Second-year MBA students can begin submitting applications May 1, assuming funds are still available. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until funds are no longer available. Applications submitted early will be reviewed first. You must submit your completed application and be accepted into the summer fellowship program prior to starting your internship. January-term students are eligible for full time intersession internships in August and may submit applications on a rolling basis until July 20, assuming funds are still available. Students are expected to accept or decline funding within two weeks of receiving notice.
Students who receive a social enterprise summer fellowship will receive an email from Columbia University’s vendor system requesting direct deposit (U.S. bank account) details. The award is typically disbursed in two to three installments over the summer. Students should expect four to six weeks of processing time before receiving their first payment by direct deposit. The obligations outlined above will be reviewed by the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise before the final installment is paid. Students are advised to consult with a financial advisor regarding the tax consequences for this fellowship award.
Your application MUST be approved before you start your internship. Please submit all application materials AT LEAST one week in advance of starting your summer internship to allow time for processing.