Helping Grow the Next Generation of Leaders: A Summer at the Surge Institute

By George Hardy, Class of 2019

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When I arrived on campus, I knew that I wanted to prioritize academics; I didn’t quite grasp the idea of the recruiting process at Booth. After working in the nonprofit sector for five years, I found solace in going to class and learning, as the concepts were starkly different from what I had been doing at Teach For America. When the recruiting process launched, I focused on consulting and specifically MBB, because I needed to balance classes, my social life, and recruiting. Big mistake! Despite advancing to the BCG Decision Round interview, I didn’t receive the offer, and I didn’t have a strong plan B in place. Corporates were coming the campus the following week, and I hadn’t engaged with any companies; I was in hot water! Given my seemingly unfortunate circumstances, I decided to pivot to social impact.

It is important to make a distinction between social impact being a choice, and being a last minute option. Pursuing a social impact opportunity was a strategic decision that allowed me to merge my passions for business, education, and diversity work, into an amazing experience. Over the summer, I worked at the Surge Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on developing emerging leaders of color in education and equipping them with executive leadership and personal development skills. I was often told that I would never find an opportunity where my three passions would collide, but after reaching out to the founder, Carmita Semaan, on LinkedIn, she invited me to meet and have a conversation with her and the Chief Operating Officer. Following the conversations, I was extended an offer to work as an MBA Strategy Intern at Surge in Chicago.

While I am not suggesting that receiving an offer is as easy as making a LinkedIn connection and having a conversation, I am suggesting that things always fall into place, and being self-aware is extremely important during recruiting process. I was not ready for consulting, and I was not hungry enough for it. I was, however, ready for Surge, and the task I was given. I was charged with designing an 3-year development strategy focused on raising $14M by 2021, which was not an easy task. Professionally, my internship equipped me with some very necessary skills: understanding how to solve a challenging and ambiguous problem, and create meaningful recommendations that are currently being implemented. Working under Carmita, the CEO/Founder, has also broadened my network tremendously, in both the business and education space. Surge served as a bridge to connect my previous experience in education with my goals of establishing a strong business foundation. However, the personal development is what stands out most. Working at the Surge Institute helped me understand what it means to show up as my authentic self, and have the confidence to walk in my genius. My internship also showed me that it is possible to work at and create an organization where my passions intersect. I was able to see that my work on the business strategy side of an organization will ultimately impact marginalized communities of color. I couldn’t be more grateful for the way my recruiting process turned out.