Ashoka

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by  João Campos, COL ’21

I worked at Ashoka in Mexico City for two months this summer, and I can say for sure that it has been an incredibly rich learning experience. This was the first real job I have ever had, and it has been amazing to attend business meetings, create projects and monitor their development, interact with co-workers and have a real impact on the company as a whole. Ashoka is a global NGO that promotes social entrepreneurship in over 89 countries, whose work mainly involves finding and supporting social entrepreneurs around the world. It is one of the leading organizations in the social sector and working here has taught me a lot about not only NGOs and their functioning, but also about several different fields. Because of its social mission, it is unable to pay interns for their work; it would have been a shame to let this opportunity pass because of the financial strains attached to it, so I am extremely thankful to Penn’s funding and support to my experience.

I am working in the ecosystems department; before coming here I had no idea what that meant, but since then I have learned a lot about the important work the department is responsible for. “Ecosystems” means that we, kind of obviously, work with the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Mexico. What that means is that we map this ecosystem through different research initiatives and promote it through workshops and boot camps with social entrepreneurs. These boot camps help beginner entrepreneurs develop their projects and harness their business and social skills to boost their impact. I was personally involved in a project mapping Sinaloa, a state in northeastern Mexico, which involved doing research to find who the social entrepreneurs, their supporters and the organizations and companies working in the field there. However, most of the heavy research had been done in the months prior to my arrival at Ashoka, so I had to learn what the whole project was about and what its outcomes were as it was being developed. That task proved itself challenging at first given the importance of what I had to do: I was put up to compile all the information my bosses had found to prepare a presentation about the ecosystem, which they were going to deliver in Sinaloa to the field’s leaders and media agencies.

This work experience taught a lot about independence and resilience, how to figure stuff out myself in order to present to my bosses the results they wanted. The realization that something I contributed to can have a lasting impact at Ashoka made me in equal parts happy and proud. I could have never had the means of getting that internship and succeeding there if it wasn’t for Penn’s continued support, both structurally and financial.

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