Cofounder, Ashoka U
Briefly describe the mission of your organization and how your role contributes to it. What does a typical day look like?
I cofounded Ashoka U (with another Stanford alum, Marina Kim!). Ashoka U is an initiative of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs. Building on Ashoka’s vision for a world where Everyone is a Changemaker, Ashoka U takes a systemic approach to impact the education of millions of students. We collaborate with colleges and universities to break down barriers to institutional change and foster a campus-wide culture of social innovation. There is rarely a typical day at Ashoka U given that it has evolved so much over the past five years – growing from four to 150 colleges and universities joining our annual conference from over 30 countries. However, typical functions include: conversing with university faculty, staff, and administrators about their goals for integrating social innovation into the curriculum and extra-curricular activities; networking with student leaders to support their work to build an eco-system on campus; connecting with potential funders and partners to engage in campus-based projects; and writing and coordinating blogs and articles to advance our thought leadership.
What made you go into this profession? Why are you doing what you are doing?
My time as a student leader at Stanford with FUSION (Future Social Innovators Network) highlighted the importance of the college years as a time to be exposed to new career paths and opportunities to have an impact in the world. I wanted college students across the country – and around the world – to have access to these ideas and opportunities. Finally, I truly believe that the world is changing and students graduating college today will have a much higher chance of success in any profession – as an entrepreneur or working as an employee in an organization – if they have the skill-sets and mindset of a changemaker.
What recommendations do you have for current Stanford students interested in pursuing a career in a similar capacity? What skills or knowledge should they focus on at Stanford? What tips do you have regarding the job search?
When pursuing a career in social innovation, be incredibly open minded and creative. You don’t only have to work at a social enterprise to have an impact. Think about the population an organization serves, their reach, their full potential – how can you use your strengths, learn new skills, and to contribute in a new and unexpected way? In the job search, I highly recommend looking for a team that fits. You’ll know it when you see it. Working on an effective team has been one of the biggest joys of my day-to-day working life. Remember: You are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you. Ask to talk with other junior staff to do a background check and to have a strong sense that you’ve found your “tribe.” Your project plans and deliverables may change, but the people you work with will make all the difference.
your life vision
How do you make this unconventional career path work in your life?
I can’t imagine doing it any other way.