Now Reading: Learn Some Important Lessons Doing an MBA Internship at a Non-Profit: Maria’s Story

Learn Some Important Lessons Doing an MBA Internship at a Non-Profit: Maria’s Story

As Director of Innovation, Industry and Employability and Acting Associate Dean at Torrens University, I always urge students take advantage of our fantastic Internship Program.

My MBA students often want to complete an internship with one of our partner businesses, so they can get industry experience. However, it’s a lesser-known fact that we also partner with some really fantastic non-profit enterprises.

As a Laureate International University, Torrens University Australia (TUA) is ‘Here for Good,’ so we support students in pursuing any activity that improves the world while they gain valuable work experience.

Working within an organisation that is driven by positive social outcomes can be incredibly rewarding. It may also change your career direction, or shape how (and why) you do business in the future.

Maria Gabriela Guarecuco is one hard-working MBA student at TUA, who recently completed an internship with a non-profit organisation.

I caught up with Maria recently to find out how her internship went, and to ask her opinion on the value of completing an internship with a non-profit.

Maria moved from Venezuela to Adelaide, Australia last year to study her dual Master of MBA & Global Project Management Advanced with us here at Torrens University. After 12 years working in business, she had decided it was time for a change.

“I come from a beautiful, multi-cultural place where people help each other, like here. I am passionate about travel, and I enjoy doing sports in nature, like climbing or going to the beach.

As a professional, I have learnt to improve myself everyday. I don’t want to be perfect, only to be better, to simplify things and become more efficient. This is part of my life philosophy.” – Maria Gabriela Guarecuco (final year, MBA of Global Project Management at TUA)

Earlier this year, Maria put an application in to Careers Connect to initiate her Internship Program.

Her Success Coach helped her to identify a suitable role, and decided she would be a perfect fit for a Business Analyst position at the HenHouse Co-operative.

HenHouse is a South Australian non-profit Co-operative, established with the aim of empowering female entrepreneurs. They share knowledge, encourage investment and assist female professionals in starting or improving their own businesses.

“I didn’t chose the organisation but I am really grateful I ended up there because it is great. The position was perfect for me because I had done some work related to business intelligence in Chile too.

After I understood the great purpose of the HenHouse Co-operative, I really wanted to join this group of women trying to help each other diminish the gender investment gap in SA.

I sent my CV then someone from Careers Connect contacted me with advice on how I could improve it. After that, the company called me for an interview.”

As a professional woman herself and someone who is passionate about social justice, Maria was happy to take on the position when it was offered to her.

It gave her an opportunity to see first hand how values could be turned into action.

“The main purpose of HenHouse is to help each other diminish the gender investment gap. This aligns with my values and I really appreciated the opportunity to see how we can become better together. I really believe in the power of community and helping each other as a society.”

This was also the first time Maria had ever worked for a Co-operative. She was able to learn from the inside how they operate differently from a regular business.

For example, its members typically fund a Co-operative in Australia. If the organisation wants more capital to expand their activities, they need to expand their membership base.

“My internship role was Business Analyst. I did market research of groups of women in the population with similar purposes, comparing them and determining the possible segments, targets and positions. My main task was to evaluate possible strategies for increasing the quantity of current members.”

During her internship with HenHouse, Maria was offered a paid position as a Continuous Improvement Engineer at an engineering consultancy. Although she was sad to leave, this was a unique opportunity for her and she had to take it.

She loves her new job, but she’s also grateful for the experience she gained while at HenHouse.

“I am now doing exactly what I wanted when I arrived here. I feel blessed and I hope keeping going on. So, now, I can say that my dream job is working in the place where I am now because it is something similar with my values and principles.

HenHouse was a great opportunity and now that I have had this experience, I absolutely will keep supporting these types of organisations in the future. It was great to see others sharing this great idea of support.

Our business community is sometimes less united, judging us instead of helping us. Women are capable of being fantastic business entrepreneurs and we deserve support.”

Does she think that other MBA students should consider an internship with a non-profit or social enterprise?

“Absolutely. I know that our objective is being part of a company where we work towards profits and our own development. I think we need to participate as a volunteers and interns to offer our knowledge and capabilities to support positive values and organisations as well.

Also, I believe in offering something, rather than just expecting something. I am new in the south Australian society and I really want to give my part to do it better as best as I can. I am a Red Cross volunteer as well.”

Congratulations on your new job, Maria. We’re all behind you and I’m sure with your philosophy, you’ll go on to do wonderful things.

Being a ‘Here for Good’ University means that it is the responsibility of our faculty and our entire organisation to use our collective skills to create positive and lasting change.

I challenge all MBA students to ask themselves what they can do to create positive change, too.

Justin Pierce, Director of Innovation, Industry and Employability and Acting Associate Dean, Postgraduate, at Torrens University Australia (TUA).

See here for more information about the MBA Program on offer at TUA.

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