I spent my summer in Nairobi, Kenya, interning at ALX, which I refer to as an education startup, but which is ultimately much more than just that. ALX is on a mission to transform Africa by developing and connecting a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders.
During my summer internship in Jakarta, a former colleague from Unilever, Dorothy, asked me if she was “missing out” because she wasn’t living abroad. She then asked me to be more specific, “Can you give me the top five points?”
An advantage of being in INSEAD’s December graduating class is the option to do a summer internship. It’s the chance to gain experience in an industry or topic you’ve never worked in before. My pre-INSEAD background was in public policy, so any internship was going to be a change of pace.
As recruiting season approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of lifestyle I want beginning in 2020. But that’s just because I have long commutes, and I need a distraction from all the other crazy thoughts that pass through my head on a minute-to-minute basis. Why is there an inordinate number of above-ground pools near airports in the US? What sort of futuristic, utopian society would we live in if Adam Sandler had never made movies? Would there still be cancer?
Interning at Almouneer has given me an opportunity to learn about a scaling a social-impact solution sustainably in an emerging market. Almouneer is a clinic chain that focuses on chronic eye diseases, especially diabetes-related eye disease in Egypt.
“To the end of classes…!” we all spoke at once, as we raised our glasses last week after the final exam. As we drank, we all looked at each other in silent contemplation – would that be the last time we would share drinks and laughs? As a December class, we enjoy a well-deserved summer break after six months of an intense MBA program.
Having worked in the financial market for more than 10 years, I decided to come to INSEAD not only expecting to broaden my knowledge and skills, but also looking for the next step to take in my career. Somehow, I had an idea that I should focus my search on meaningful and fulfilling jobs, where I could have a better sense of the real impact of my efforts.
One of INSEAD’s application essays asks you to write about your short and long term career aspirations with your MBA from INSEAD. I wrote about building a renewable energy company to bring power to the unelectrified areas of Africa. I wonder how many people actually end up following through on what they wrote. In a way, it's part of the INSEAD experience that you end up on an adventure that you could not have imagined before. Somehow, though, for my summer internship, I found myself doing exactly what I wrote about, working for a pay-as-you-go solar startup in Nairobi, Kenya.
Following eight years in the financial services industry, I came to INSEAD to discover ways in which I could leverage my past experience to make a substantial difference in the lives of ordinary people. When searching for a summer project, I was keen to find somewhere I could make a tangible difference in a short amount of time and I knew social impact would give me the opportunity to live and work on the ground and see the day to day effect my work was having on the ordinary people I hoped to reach.
After working for five years in the corporate world, I came to INSEAD to explore my options. I wanted to do something different during my summer break. I saw my summer as a window to explore something new. A new country! A new culture! A new work environment! Social Impact was the perfect match. It would allow me to work on interesting life-changing projects, as well as live a both culturally and professionally enriching experience.