Everything Starts with an Internship

Story bubbles on world map
Source: Ashoka

Hi!   I’m Marc, and much like you, I am in a constant state of high five with social entrepreneurship. People around us are inspired, governments are taking notice, ideas are becoming impactful projects and we are evolving as citizens of our capitalistic societies.

It’s an easy field to fall in love with. There are constantly new groundbreaking ideas and a community has formed that looks after its own. This train is moving quickly, and while it can often seem difficult to find a way to jump aboard, I am living proof that Ashoka is an ideal place to start.

I’ve always loved having a project. That being said, sometimes the idea for the next one doesn’t come as quickly as we hope. To come up with ideas I need to be surrounded by thinkers and people who challenge those thinkers. Ashoka supports a community of 3000 of the finest thinkers around, and as interns, we get a front row seat to observe what makes their ideas work and why. 

My first major project as an intern was to interview the references of four very strong applicants for the Fellowship program. Strong Fellows lead strong teams and I got the chance to pick the brains of twelve project supporters with impressive titles and even more impressive minds. I spoke to a REAL KNIGHT!

I got to know the projects of the applicants quite well and I was particularly intrigued by Shaun Loney’s team’s project, Build Inc. They hire and train Winnipeggers with barriers to employment to install energy efficient retrofits in the city’s low income housing buildings. It is an economically viable enterprise that is environmentally responsible and socially inspiring. 

As Shaun continued to go through the interview process I got to know him and his enterprise more and more personally and my interest was building. Excitement continued to mount until the day that I asked him if he would mentor me to replicate the model in Toronto. Without an instant of hesitation, Shaun said, ‘Yup, lets do it”. 

After staying with him in Winnipeg for nearly 20 days researching his business and shadowing his life, I came home with a new purpose. 

The Winnipeg team was incredibly supportive of our new venture and that support has continued months later across the country. My fellow interns are a huge part of the team. I meet weekly with one as she mentors me through the start-up process and another handles all of our marketing and website maintenance.   

The community around social enterprise sticks together. We’re all joining hands to push the world in the same direction and Ashoka is a beautiful place to start the journey.