UNH’s Social Innovation Internship provides a great way for students to gain experience working for businesses that have a social mission. The program is also a meaningful way for UNH alumni to engage with their alma mater.
The program, administered through UNH’s Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, started in 2011 to help students gain experience with employers that integrate social innovation into their company mission and strategy. The center is a joint venture of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics and the Carsey School of Public Policy. Economics alumnus Paul Bradley ’86, president of ROC USA, which helps homeowners in manufactured home communities buy their communities as co-ops, has been involved with the Social Innovation Internship program since its inception.
“ROC USA was an early adopter, eager to engage UNH students in our social venture’s mission,” he says. ROC USA, and its local partner, ROC NH/ The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, have hosted interns who helped conduct research, raise funds, market their projects, and develop tools and templates. “It’s been a win/win in each case,” says Bradley.
Hospitality management graduate Alison Pyott ’92 has worked with UNH Career and Professional Success to hire students at all of her workplaces. Now, as a wealth manager with Veris Wealth Partners, a pioneer in the sustainable investment field, hiring UNH student interns through the Social Innovation Internship has been a great fit. “Our founding partners and employees have long believed in the power of business to create social and environmental change,” she says.
“UNH has made it a low-burden, high-return program for employers. I think it’s essential that New Hampshire-based employers engage students in meaningful internships that inspire.”
Because of Veris’s commitment to sustainability, Pyott’s social innovation interns have concentrated their efforts on this topic. The students have worked on the company’s annual carbon footprint and offset, assessed the company’s overall sustainability and evaluated and implemented ways to increase sustainability.
“The Social Innovation Internship program provides additional benefits, as the program attracts highly qualified candidates, assists with intern searches and hiring and provides a cohort training program that augments the host companies’ activities,” Pyott says.
“UNH has made it a low-burden, high-return program for employers. I think it’s essential that New Hampshire-based employers engage students in meaningful internships that inspire,” Bradley says.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the work I’ve done with ROC NH at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund,” says Conor McFarland ’17, who participated in the program during the summer of 2016. “The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). After working for a CDFI, I’ve started to care more about affordable housing, community facilities and technological literacy initiatives.”
After McFarland’s summer internship at ROC NH and the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, he accepted a part-time position with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, and he recently accepted a full-time employment offer with the organization.
In addition to providing meaningful internship experiences for students, the program has also led to the creation of both the New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge, an annual competition featuring student entrepreneurs with social missions, and UNH’s student chapter of Net Impact, a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to solving social challenges, protecting the environment and orienting products and businesses toward the greater good.