Katie Ta, Our Summer 2015 Intern

How an MBA Graduate Applied Her Skills to Social Enterprise
By: Cayla Mackey
July 21, 2015

Katie Ta joined Social Enterprise Greenhouse as an intern for the summer of 2015 and focused on the social venture Accelerator. The Accelerator is a four-year-running program that enables budding social ventures to rapidly grow into established businesses. The next accelerator will be held in January 2015 and will carry many of the changes Katie worked on.
Through her time with Social Enterprise Greenhouse, Katie was able to learn about sustainable business development and apply the skills she acquired as an MBA student. She worked directly with Emily Wanderer, the Director of Development. Her internship was part of University of Rhode Island’s one-year Masters of Business Administration in Strategic Innovation (known as the SIMBA program). As Providence Business News notes, the program focuses on cross-disciplinary approaches and practical learning objectives.

Katie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York. Realizing her passion for service, she joined the military right out of college and served as a Human Resources Officer.

Katie currently serves as a Captain in the Army Reserves and will be relocating to Hawaii at the end of the summer. Her husband, who is also an Army officer, recently completed his Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and is stationed in O’ahu.

Social Enterprise Greenhouse benefited from having Katie onboard by applying her MBA skills in strategic thinking to the constant improvement of the Accelerator program.

Here is what she had to say about the experience:

Q: How has your perspective on social enterprise changed as a result of your internship?

Before meeting Kelly Ramirez, I was completely unaware of what a social enterprise was. While attending the University of Rhode Island’s one-year MBA Program, Kelly came in and spoke about the organization and what social enterprises are. I was immediately interested. Kelly noticed my passion, and soon hired me as an intern. During my internship, I continued to learn about social enterprises and how they benefit the community and the world. I believe that, as Kelly says, “one day, all businesses will be functioning as social enterprises.”

Q: What did you accomplish during your internship?

Here is a run-down of what I did while interning at Social Enterprise Greenhouse:

  • Researched national Accelerator competition
  • Researched potential grant/award money options for the Accelerator program
  • Created an Outreach Calendar for the Accelerator
  • Analyzed the current Accelerator application and modify it accordingly
  • Edited the Comprehensive Program Overview and Accelerator Handbook documents
  • Analyzed all Accelerator Modules for content and recommend changes
  • Researched Providence / RI social statistics
  • Researched videographers/white board video options
  • Researched Business Startup options (i.e. Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, etc.)
  • Worked with SEG employees and members on projects as needed
  • Attended all SEG events

Q: What did you learn during your internship?

I learned a lot about business. More importantly, I learned a great deal from the many business professional who work for Social Enterprise Greenhouse or are on the board, as well as the member social entrepreneurs. Being exposed to such a network of great professionals was an incredible learning experience. Additionally, during my time at Social Enterprise Greenhouse, I was able to apply and improve my innovation skills I learned during my MBA by working directly with the Accelerator program. I was able to research and learn how Accelerators assist social entrepreneurs and what strategies entrepreneurs use to be successful. Lean Startup and Business Model Generation are two of the most commonly used startup methodologies, which I learned about during my graduate program. I was able to apply this knowledge to my internship.

I also learned how different business models are successful, ranging from for-profit to non-profit to hybrid models. At Social Enterprise Greenhouse, I learned how non-profits are successful and their importance in the market today. Non-profits rely heavily on donor relationships, and I learned how important networking and maintaining relationships truly are. I was not previously aware of hybrid models, and enjoyed delving into them. Hybrid models often run for-profit businesses with a division of their business functioning and registered as a non-profit business. This is often a great solution for social entrepreneurs.

Through this experience, I was able to find where I fit best. I found that working for a company that “does well and does good” for the community is very important to me.

Q: Why was the work you provided important to your host organization?

The skills I gained during my graduate program directly applied to my internship. My main purpose was to help improve the Accelerator program, which educates entrepreneurs on running a business. The Accelerator is essentially a quick and condensed version of business school. I was able to assist with the Accelerator program, and the organization provided me with real-world experience.

Q: How has your perspective on the host organization changed as a result of your internship?

I had a particularly unique experience working at Social Enterprise Greenhouse. I started working soon after they moved into the Hub, their new physical location in 10 Davol Square. I was able to witness the organization grow and continually add members. When I first arrived, there were only a couple people working out of the Hub at a time, and now there are numerous people utilizing the space each day. With this trajectory of growth, I can only imagine the impact Social Enterprise Greenhouse will have on the community in the coming years.

Q: What have you changed your mind about since working in this internship?

When I first started working at Social Enterprise Greenhouse, I thought that being an entrepreneur was not something I would be interested in. After spending time at Social Enterprise Greenhouse and seeing the community support, it has encouraged me to consider working for a startup company or becoming an entrepreneur myself, especially in the Social Enterprise sector.

Email Katie if you want to learn more about her experience and what’s next for her at katherine.a.ta@gmail.com.

Social Enterprise Greenhouse has loved having Katie as an intern and wishes her the best of luck in her future endeavors. She has been an invaluable asset to the team. Learn more about internships, our internship support program, and how you can intern with Social Enterprise Greenhouse or a social enterprise by reading more about our University Initiative and checking out our Opportunity Board.

Cayla Mackey
University Initiative Director

As the Social Enterprise Greenhouse University Initiative Director, Cayla helps college and university students get involved in social enterprise. The University Initiative is a program funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Innovation Grant to retain students and recent graduates in Rhode Island through enabling them to work on and in social enterprises. Learn more about Cayla here.

Contact: cmackey@segreenhouse.org