Written by Tristan Harris, Class of 2020
Two trends have slowly been emerging at Stern – a growing interest in consulting and an increasing emphasis on social impact. Net Impact, a Stern club, has launched a program to leverage both of these trends through the Net Impact Collaborative Experience (N.I.C.E.). Created for NYU students who aim to gain experience with social impact, N.I.C.E. caters to students who may not know where to start their social impact consulting journey. Working with NYC-based social impact start-ups, N.I.C.E. members are able to gain hands-on experience with a wide variety of different organizations. Each semester, organizations are chosen based on a theme; Spring 2017’s theme is “Educational Equity.” Some organizations N.I.C.E. has partnered with this year include Share Meals, Rise Marketplace, NYU’s Community Agriculture Club, Idle Threat, and Phone Flare.
N.I.C.E.’s success largely rests on its president Jeni Lin, Junior in CAS studying Economics and Philosophy. She first gained experience with social impact consulting at PwC Advisory, where she worked with the firm’s sustainable energy department. She then interned the following year with BCG looking at sustainable investing projects. Through these experiences, Jeni says she became “interested in what Net Impact and N.I.C.E. do as a whole.” After seeing N.I.C.E. struggle during her sophomore spring, Jeni helped relaunch the program in Fall 2016 by utilizing her social impact consulting experiences.
Jeni took over N.I.C.E. to sustain its success, citing that it “helped shape who I am today by offering exposure to start-ups and social impact start-ups tackling issues of food insecurity, environmental sustainability, and educational equity.” Under her leadership, N.I.C.E. has developed a clearer workshop structure by having the visiting company first present its business plan so that members can understand the company. Then, members have the opportunity to pick from two objectives to spend working on during the workshop.
N.I.C.E. is open to students in all years; however, it is especially tailored to underclassmen who may struggle to gain experience with social impact consulting elsewhere. Jeni believes that N.I.C.E. is especially valuable because it provides students with insight into both social impact consulting and consulting as a field more generally. Jeni hopes that N.I.C.E. equips members with key consulting skills such as analyzing industries, baselining companies, and learning how to identify clear solutions for organizations based on their needs.
Kitty Liang, a Freshman at Stern, is a regular member at N.I.C.E. Kitty enjoys N.I.C.E. because “it is quite rewarding… you are actually doing things, you aren’t just crunching numbers.” In terms of the skills she has gained, Kitty says that N.I.C.E. has taught her “how to think logically and critically, how to work with people, and how to use information.” Her favorite organizations to consult with this past year have been RISE Marketplace and Share Meals.
N.I.C.E. not only benefits its members by giving them experience with social impact consulting, but it also provides a crucial resource for social impact organizations themselves. Because social impact organizations are often nonprofits, many do not have the funds necessary to employ large consulting firms. N.I.C.E. is a free alternative for organizations to gain insight from students with wide range of professional and academic backgrounds at Stern. LYNX, a social media company founded by Stern juniors Nan Ding & Judith Xu, remarked that “N.I.C.E. helped us tremendously. We started out with a rough idea but N.I.C.E. helped us develop it into an almost fully-fledged business plan.” Karl Storchmann, founder of the Anti-Idling Initiative, stated that he “got a lesson in organization and efficiency. It was incredibly refreshing to be engaged in intense discussions with devoted students.”
N.I.C.E. meets Fridays, 4:00-5:15 pm, and is a part of Net Impact. Check out its Facebook page and join Net Impact’s ListServ for more information about the organizations that N.I.C.E. brings in each week.