Exploring Social Innovation at Social Impact Days 2016

Social Impact Days at Kellogg is an annual event that takes place before pre-term, bringing together incoming students who are interested in forging impact over the course of their careers. Students gather over the span of three days to hear from influential social impact speakers, learn about Kellogg’s social impact offerings, engage with classmates, faculty and staff, and design innovative solutions to real-world social and environmental challenges. Below, Myah Smith ’18 reflects on her unforgettable Social Impact Days 2016 experience.myah

When the email went out to register for Social Impact Days 2016, I was oozing excitement.

Social Impact Days was one of the reasons I wanted to attend Kellogg in the first place. I wanted to explore all of the ways to get involved and make an impact in my community, and this event provided the first opportunity of many more to come.

To explain it as simply as possible, Social Impact Days is an opportunity for wickedly smart students of all backgrounds to put on their impact hats and apply their talents to solving some of society’s most challenging issues.

My experience at Social Impact Days was phenomenal to say the least. The participating students were so diverse, coming from different industries, functions and previous experience levels – but all shared the value of making a positive impact in the world.

During the event, we had the opportunity to form teams and select whether we would tackle the challenge of a local nonprofit, help a local corporation drum up a corporate social responsibility initiative or be a “wild card” and start an independent venture. My team of five chose the wild card option and decided to address the access gap that selective universities face when seeking high-achieving, low-income students of diverse backgrounds.

While I enjoyed everything about Social Impact Days, the activity I enjoyed most wasn’t technically an activity at all: It was the block of time from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. when all of the group magic was made. It was a dynamic meeting of the minds that intersected with learning the tricks of the startup trade, and then immediately applying these learnings to the group task at hand.

Professor Schonthal was extremely enlightening and engaging, and he gave us brilliant ways to approach our task. Being a wild card group meant we had the autonomy to create our own unique solution to a challenge, and had to employ a lot of the relevant information Professor Schonthal had shared on startups.       

What I took away from this experience was the value of diversity in teams and the remarkable results that can be achieved when that diversity is harnessed around a common goal. We pitched a simple, yet effective way to get promising students in front of admissions officers and engage them early on before it’s too late. And we won the competition with “Best Overall Solution” for our startup category, plus “Most Innovative Solution” and “Best Pitch” out of all 15 competing teams.

It was truly an amazing experience to see how all of our personal and professional experiences, opinions, skills and strengths could all be leveraged to create an effective solution for a prevalent social issue. The former consultant in our group had amazing deck-making skills and the member who previously worked in policy was instrumental in selecting our argument and how we structured our thoughtful responses. Everyone contributed something different that became a critical component of our final product.

My interest in participating in Social Impact at Kellogg was originally sparked during Preview Day and Day at Kellogg (DAK), and now after Social Impact Days, my interest has been further solidified. I am already contemplating how I will incorporate the Kellogg Inner City Mentoring Club, Impact Consulting Club and Kellogg Board Fellows Program into my already jam-packed schedule. I look forward to participating in these Social Impact extracurriculars, as I know that each will add a unique value to my time at Kellogg.

I absolutely recommend that every Kellogg student adds Social Impact engagement to his or her Kellogg experience prior to graduation. (With 13 Net Impact-affiliated student clubs to choose from, you are guaranteed to find a club that matches your interests and skillsets.)

As for future Kellogg students, I recommend that you jumpstart your Kellogg journey by attending Social Impact Days, a one-of-a-kind experience that I have found to be life-changing.

Interested in learning more about Kellogg’s social impact offerings? Explore Kellogg’s social impact curriculum, career support and experiential learning opportunities.

Myah Smith is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. She serves as a Bullfrogs Section Representative in addition to many other roles on campus. Prior to Kellogg, Myah served as a Teach for America corps member and held a number of roles in sourcing, planning and human resources at Target Corporation.

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