Fresh into the MMS program, I wanted an opportunity to hone my client-facing skills, while gaining hands-on consulting experience. I stumbled upon Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators (DISI) and they were looking for members to fill leadership positions on its executive board, as well as project managers and innovators (sort of like analysts). DISI works with nonprofits on a variety of projects like charting their strategy for the next five years, increasing website footfall, and more.
Hierarchically in DISI, there are two presidents plus directors for Operations (who oversee the projects), Internal Development (for our networking events), Partner Outreach, and Marketing. I applied to be a Partner Outreach executive director, and after a few interviews and a board meeting, I was in!
My responsibilities fall into three buckets:
As DISI has two project cycles in a year, my major duty was finding, contacting and establishing relationships with new clients and partners for the next DISI term to work with. This involved networking, a lot of Zoom calls, emailing back and forth, screening applications, and ensuring a mutual fit between our client and what we as DISI could do for them. The projects for the next term that the nonprofits worked with spanned from endangered species, to social movement groups, as well as environmental groups, and women’s rights groups.
As Partner Outreach, we also keep in touch with the current partners who the teams are working with that term, ensuring their satisfaction with the work being done by our student consultants, and liaising between the project and delivery.
We have weekly meetings, alternating between meetings with the presidents and meetings with the full board. Here we ensure our priorities and goals match the various other divisions, and touch base on the progress of our project managers and their project teams.
What Did I Gain?
- Experience with a real consulting project
- Insight on how to handle clients and partners and synchronize expectations
- Teamwork and time management skills
- New friends from the larger Duke community
DISI is an invigorating experience, and a number of Fuquans have been involved with it in the past. I’d highly recommend it to all who want to build their career skillset through experience with consulting or leadership and team management!