"Take risks that demonstrate you can take on challenges & bounce back from failures."
Impact is a topic I am getting asked about more and more from prospective and current students. They are asking, “How can I make a positive impact through business as an undergraduate student at Michigan Ross?”
At Ross, there are numerous ways BBA students can engage in impact-oriented opportunities while in business school. I’m happy to share examples of how our students have used their business skills to make a positive difference locally, nationally, and around the world.
The Business+Impact initiative at Michigan Ross is the hub for all our impact-related programs, activities, and events, and is part of our larger mission to build a better world through business and education. In 2019, we opened the +Impact Studio as a place for students to come together to solve real-world problems using expert insights from Ross faculty and their own creativity and innovation. Since its launch, our undergraduate students have engaged in internships, research, workshops, and class experiences through the +Impact Studio.
However, giving back and using business knowledge and skills to make a positive difference in the world has been part of the Michigan Ross DNA for decades. Each year, Ross BBAs help business owners with their taxes in Detroit, go on service trips to Latin America (in non-COVID years), and make an impact through the dozens of professional and affinity clubs at Ross. Our students also work on a variety of projects with startups and nonprofits through our REAL (Ross Experiences in Action-based Learning) portfolio of courses, such as the Living Business Leadership Experience, Capstone MAP, and the Social Venture Fund.
In fact, there are more than 100 ways to make a social impact in the world while at Michigan Ross, so it is easy to find connections and opportunities during your time as a student.
"Ever since I learned about the Ross School of Business during the college application process, I knew that I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity the school offered when it came to the intersection of business and social impact. Coming from a non-business background during high school, I was always fascinated by public policy and sustainable development as mechanisms for wide-scale change to the point where my Ross portfolio was about the necessity of business involvement in order to achieve the sustainable development goals and influence change."
-Pallab Saha, BBA ’22
The onset of the pandemic has motivated even more of our students to step up our local community. One example of their recent success is the +Impact Studio for Local Business project, which I’d like to highlight in this post.
Two of our BBA Student Ambassadors, Jenny Vu, ’22, and Pallab Saha, ’22, participated in the +Impact Studio for Local Business project last summer. During this experience, they were among 37 students from Michigan Ross and the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy — in partnership with Michigan’s Center on Finance, Law & Policy and the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project — who worked to create a set of plans and tools that small businesses could use to reopen safely after the COVID-19 lockdowns. They began by seeking to better understand the implications of the pandemic on local businesses and the economy.
"Collaborating alongside other students through the +Impact Studio allowed me to learn firsthand the implications of COVID-19. We navigated unpredictable economic conditions to provide an impact-driven solution. This was a profound opportunity to apply all my prior experiences and knowledge at Ross into a meaningful project."
-Jenny Vu, BBA ’22
The team of students conducted interviews with small-business owners and clients that included restaurants, gyms, retail stores, and personal services sectors in both Detroit and Ann Arbor to learn more about their experiences. Issues tackled included increasing foot traffic, e-commerce development, and transitioning between indoor and outdoor models. Through conducting industry research to explore new business models, while prioritizing safety and following government guidelines, our students created a website with financial and cash flow tools; product pricing and profit margin guides; and operational frameworks to help business owners better understand profitability and strategic operation.
Experiences like +Impact Studio for Local Business go beyond the classroom learning opportunities to provide practical applications of business concepts. It is about actively engaging in the process to culturally and economically transform society to be well-positioned to meet business goals. Our students see business as a call to action to provide transformational change in the community.
Our neighborhoods in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and across the region need help and new ideas now more than ever, and I am proud that our Ross BBA students rose to the challenge. As we move into a new calendar year I am excited to see the positive difference our students will make in 2021 and beyond.
Bonus: Here are a few other examples from the Michigan Ross Newsroom of BBA students stepping up to make an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic: