The Impact Consulting Fellowship is an experiential program where teams consisting of MBA, Doctoral, Masters, and Undergraduate students work collaboratively to provide pro-bono consulting services to impact-driven organizations.
In May 2020 after news that the COVID-19 pandemic would countermand many internships, Robert H. Smith School of Business students needed a new direction. How would they continue to grow their skill sets and become more transformative leaders? The thought was pressing for our Smith community, but an actionable plan to innovatively answer these concerns during these trying times was yet to exist. In a series of ideation sessions with faculty, students, and other campus wide partners, the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC) found that students wanted experiential learning opportunities that would drive impactful changes in our community. This insight informed the creation of the Impact Consulting Fellowship (ICF).
Now in its third iteration, ICF is an inclusive program for all University of Maryland students; MBA, Doctoral, Masters, and Undergraduate. The goal of the fellowship is to expose students to ethical and impact-driven businesses and organizations that operate for the benefit of people, planet, and profit as opposed to profit alone. ICF also enables students to take the skills gained in the classroom and apply them to real-life challenges in order to make a meaningful impact on the community. In the inaugural iteration of the fellowship program, we had participation from approximately 100 students, 23 alumni advisors, and 23 clients. Now, nearly a year later, we’ve grown to nearly 300 students and 45 alumni advisors providing a total of nearly 30,000 hours of pro-bono consulting services to 44 impact-driven companies and organizations both nationwide and around the world. As we continue to grow and expand, we are confident that ICF will be a staple program in the business school, as well as in the broader UMD community. Additionally, our CSVC staff have created an all-inclusive handbook that provides step-by-step instructions on how other institutions can replicate ICF and create their own impact-driven experiential consulting program. In doing this, we hope to see ICF cohorts created and thriving in universities across the country, with a unified goal of educating students on sustainable development and ethical business practices, as well as engaging our communities and supporting local business development.