Inside Net Impact’s New MAP Program
Q&A with Net Impact's Abby Davisson
Encouraging “impact careers” is all well and good, but how does Net Impact make sure we’re walking the walk? Abby Davisson, our Director of Career Strategy & Programs, shares a look behind the scenes of our upcoming campus-based MAP (Making a Path) program. MAP provides the peer support and accountability students need to feel less isolated, overwhelmed, and just plain stuck in their impact job searches.
Jess: Where did the idea for the MAP program spring from?
Abby: When I was in business school, I remember an interesting phenomenon happening part-way through the year. Classmates suddenly started showing up to class in suits and ties: it was a sign that on-campus interview season had started. My sharply-dressed classmates may have raised a few eyebrows but they also got lots of support – people would take note, and ask them how their interview went and when they’d hear about the next step of the process.
Meanwhile, people who were looking for impact jobs often weren’t as involved in the traditional recruiting process, so they didn’t receive the same type of community support. They simply didn’t have the visual prompt of a suit to remind their classmates to check in with them. So the idea for MAP came from the desire for all students to benefit from a supportive and structured community when they’re going through their job searches – especially because impact job searches tend to lack the built-in structure and accountability of the on-campus recruiting process.
Once you realized that so many students face this dilemma, how did you and your team tackle unearthing a solution? In other words, how did you know what approach to take in order to be effective?
We knew that peer support groups have proven to be effective ways of providing guidance and accountability to people dealing with all types of challenges – from drinking (Alcoholics Anonymous) to health (Cancer Survivors Network). A number of business schools already offered job search groups, but we found that most were either quite specialized or very broad. We thought Net Impact chapters were the perfect structures to use to roll out a peer-based job search support group for those seeking impact jobs.
How did the pilot help you shape the final MAP program?
The six campuses that piloted the program provided important feedback that helped us improve the program. We tried having a faculty member lead a group, for example, but found that students strongly preferred their peers as facilitators. Also, the program guide we developed for the pilot had a total of four sessions over the course of two months. We decided to add an additional session, because pilot participants wanted a “get-to-know-you” session to build rapport and community before diving into the meat of the program.
Were there any missteps or learnings along the way?
For the pilot, we used the same program guide for undergraduate and MBA students. We got feedback that the same material didn’t resonate equally with both types of groups, so we’re tailoring these to each respective group. We also decided to rename the program MAP, which stands for Making a Path (it was called “Career Working Group”). These groups are for students who aren’t necessarily following a linear or preexisting career path. At Net Impact, we know there are many paths to impact, and we think that some of the most interesting career paths often take unexpected twists and turns. The people we’ve featured in the career stories on our website, for example, haven’t followed an existing map to get to their destination…they’ve made their own.
So what's next? How can students participate in MAP on their campus?
We plan to roll it out to at least 25 campuses this fall, led by volunteer student facilitators. Any student chapter can start their own MAP group – interested students, faculty, or supporters should fill out our interest form and we'll send them more information about what’s involved.