A new student internship program will train students how to work with and help certify businesses who want to meet the highest standards for social and environmental operations and leadership.
The Business for Good internship will give students the opportunity to work directly with business leaders on the B Impact Assessment, an organizational awareness tool that prepares companies for B Corp certification. Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment through a verified third-party review.
“The Business for Good internship program allows our students to see how the business community can be part of the solution for societal issues,” said Sri Sundaram, Tiedemann-Cotton Dean of the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance on USF’s St. Petersburg campus. “This reshapes the conversation about how businesses view their commitment to all stakeholders they serve.”
More than two dozen students in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering and the Patel College of Global Sustainability will intern with seven businesses across various industries in Florida and Texas during the pilot program. The program is a partnership between Florida for Good, B is for Benefit and the university’s Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership within the Muma College of Business.
The idea for the innovative program was envisioned and championed by current USF St. Petersburg campus student Emma Jacobs. Jacobs worked with Bekah Vigil with the Bishop Center and Brittany Gray, founder of B is for Benefit, and together built the remote internship program.
“During a previous internship, my main task was to certify the firm I was working for as a B Corporation. I gained such a rewarding experience learning about corporate inner mechanics and how any business can use their power to make large-scale change,” said Jacobs. “Helping to certify a business as a B Corp was the most valuable experiential learning opportunity I have received in my entire college career and this internship will provide others with a similar experience.”
Given the interdisciplinary nature of the B Corp model, which focuses on governance, community, customers, workers and the environment, students with various academic backgrounds and interests could apply this internship experience to their major.
“Current and future students consistently tell us that they want to work for conscious and values-driven businesses, and this internship will provide such an opportunity,” said Vigil, who is also a graduate student studying anthropology on the St. Petersburg campus.
B is for Benefit will train students and supervise them as they work directly with businesses to complete the assessment and propose changes to achieve B Corp certification.
“This internship further showcases our commitment to advancing trust-centered ethical leadership for the greater good,” said David O’Neill, director of the Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership. “Students get an inside view of what leaders in a business must consider and the companies build awareness to improve their positive impact. The values of a B Corp align well with our vision of what leadership should be, making this program a seamless addition to our offerings.”
While students gain knowledge and experience, businesses will receive assistance as they navigate the rigorous process of earning the B Corp Certification.
"We are most excited about starting to work with a team of students, because we can learn from each other in many ways,” said Tony Selvaggio, CEO of eSmart Recycling, one of the participating businesses. “We are passionate about what we build and the opportunity to share that passion is the highlight of why we do what we do."