Student Profile: Exploring CSR
Jessica Smith '07
Summer internship: Coca-Cola
Organizer, Future of Philanthropy Conference
After college I worked at General Mills for about three years in the sales department, and while I was there, I spent a lot of my time working with the corporate social responsibility department, in addition to my sales responsibilities. I did some volunteering with them and helped them set up community outreach programs and get employees involved in volunteering. I found that I really enjoyed that part of my job, and I decided that I wanted to switch functions and do CSR fulltime.
It was a challenge to find a position in corporate social responsibility, because companies mostly hire from within for that department. So I decided to go back to school, get my MBA, and really learn what was going on in the CSR industry. The timing was fortunate. When I arrived at SOM, there was very little information about CSR out there. Today there's something about climate change or globalization or social responsibility on every magazine cover.
Yale provided the creativity and the flexibility to allow me to study something that didnít exist as a concentration or a major. There are a lot of resources that are available ó SOM is very linked into the broader campus. I've taken courses at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and I've gone to numerous talks with visiting professors and visiting scholars. I've taken two independent study courses, focusing on the trends in CSR.
I did an internship at Cola-Cola, helping to align their worldwide CSR strategy and figuring out how to communicate to the employees what the companyís corporate social responsibility priorities were. CSR tends to be something that people just do ó it often doesn't even have a name. So I was figuring out how to frame it for them, and making sure people understood what it means.
Other students have been extremely helpful in my job search. People who I've spoken to once, maybe, or never, or who just heard that I wanted to do CSR, would come across postings for internships and forward them to me. Almost every one at the school knows what I want to do, and people just email me ideas.
People here are friendly and willing to help. Maybe it's the grading system, or maybe itís the size, but I think a lot of it has to do with the type of student that SOM attracts. When I visited SOM I made an immediate connection with people who had no particular reason to try to get me to come here. They just genuinely liked the program and were nice people. And it's a chain reaction ó now I want to do the same thing for students coming in. I don't know what's behind it, but it's definitely there, and it's almost tangible.
Interviewed April 27, 2007.