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Climate Contributor Article 3

Climate Contributor Article 3

Climate Contributor Article 3

Corporate impact careers - Taking your skills and education to the next level

This article is part of a multi-part series highlighting the voices of the Net Impact Community on how to use their careers for climate action. 


About the author

Madeline Stanton is a sustainable business leader on a mission to transform business by addressing risks and seizing opportunities in environmental, social, and governance. She currently manages the Baumhart Scholars MBA at Loyola University Chicago, preparing impact leaders to build a more just, humane, and sustainable world. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.


Leveraging education to accelerate your career and your impact

While I have not taken the leap in pursuing a graduate degree myself, I believe graduate school can be an opportunity to enhance your existing skills or transition fields. And let me tell you, I see it happen with every inspiring leader I get to work with in the Baumhart Scholars MBA program at Loyola University Chicago. 


I also recognize it is a big decision to extend your schooling by going right into a graduate program or maybe a daunting decision to return to the classroom after many years of being out of school. This decision may not be for everyone or it may not be the right time for you, right now, and that may change later.  


There are many paths to a corporate impact career, the articles in this series have also explored intentional networking and professional development as other paths (paths that have helped me in my own journey to a corporate impact career), and graduate school often comes up as a clear path to elevating your career and your impact. 


For this article, I decided to talk to the source, students that have made the decision to go to graduate school. And maybe, they can help you navigate whether graduate school is the right choice for you as a potential next step in your journey to a corporate impact career.

Making the decision to pursue graduate school


Why did you decide to pursue an MBA focused on impact?


Patricia Harris, Loyola’s Baumhart Scholars MBA Class of 2023, said “I was not actively thinking about grad school and didn’t think it would be a part of my plan. But once I discovered this program (the Baumhart Scholars MBA), it was unlike anything else I had seen, with a specialized focus on social impact. I knew it was the right opportunity for me. I knew it would give me the business acumen I needed, to add to the social impact experience I had, to meet this pivotal moment for the industry as the intersection of profit and purpose continues to grow. While in the program, I had the opportunity to apply my classroom learnings in real time. And, I’m still implementing those learnings in my work after graduating.”


Why did you decide to pursue an education focused on sustainability?


Mereya Riopedre, current student at Loyola’s School of Environmental Sustainability, said “Environmental justice was one of the first classes I took at LUC (Loyola University Chicago). My passion for environmental science leans toward the human justice aspect of it and the connections between protecting our environment and our most vulnerable communities. This first class in environmental justice made me very sure I was going into the right field and helped me learn how I could combine all of my passions. Getting involved and talking to people in SES (School of Environmental Sustainability) as an undergrad is what drove me to add on the Masters of Environmental Science and Sustainability in my fifth year. Where I hope to go in my career is pointing toward policy and it makes a lot of sense to have an elevated degree to pursue that path. Plus, it was an easy decision going right into it, adding on just one extra year in my time at Loyola.”


Why did you add a specialized certificate, focused on ESG, to your graduate degree?


Moy Mendez, current student pursuing Loyola’s Baumhart Scholars MBA and the Baumhart Certificate in ESG, said “I had taken a class in ESG before coming to Loyola. In this class, we looked at ESG from an environmental sustainability lens, exploring how we can be actively involved in being more conscious in thinking about the future for the generations that come after us. As I learned more about the elements of the E, S, and G I was seeing alignment to my personal values. I wanted to educate myself more and prepare for a career in this area. So, I added the ESG certificate to my MBA degree at Loyola (also focused on social impact) because I want to grow my ability, in a more refined way, to have a greater impact. ESG is just one of the ways to do that and it is very aligned with my values.”


How will your degrees, both undergraduate and graduate, help you have an impact in your career?


Hanan Abdillahi, current student at Loyola’s School of Environmental Sustainability, said “I chose to come to Loyola because of SES. I wanted to stay on the policy side of things because I think we need large-scale policy changes to address the issues we are facing. For example, I’ve enjoyed studying environmental politics, learning about the history of environmentalism in our government. I believe we can start by making changes in our government to better serve our cities and communities. I know adding the graduate degree to my studies at Loyola will help me become more well-rounded in my perspectives and might even help me be open to more areas in my job search. It will also give me more hands-on experience in my classes before working. I’m not sure where I will be five years from now, of course policy is on my mind. Maybe I’ll be at the City of Chicago, a nonprofit, or a state agency, but I know that I will carry my passion for social and environmental justice in any position that I have.”


Explore Educational Opportunities


In my conversations with these four students, I heard that graduate school can be an opportunity to develop new skills to add to your work experience, an opportunity to further develop a new passion, an opportunity to get hands-on experience before beginning your career, and an opportunity to elevate your credentials to pursue the career of your dreams.


Here are a few resources to explore some educational opportunities: 



What’s next?


This series of articles about corporate impact careers will explore the path to a career where doing well is doing good, getting there by networking, professional development, graduate school, and volunteer opportunities. Stay tuned for the next article on volunteer opportunities.