Fellowship supports MIT Sloan students working on societal challenges

A Q&A with two fellowship grantees, Dante Cassanego and Julie Lein.

With the help of a Sloan Social Impact Fellowship (SSIF), Dante Cassanego, MBA ’12, learned about the inner workings of a large urban school district, and Julie Lein, MBA ’12, learned about nutrition education for schools at their respective internships this past summer.

The Sloan Social Impact Fellowship (SSIF) supports second-year MBA students who opt to intern in the public or nonprofit sectors during the summer between their first and second years at MIT Sloan. The fund provides students with the opportunity to work on a societal challenge project.

Cassanego worked for the Technology Office of the Boston Public School District, and Lein worked for Revolution Foods, a company that delivers healthy meals and nutrition education to schools. Both students recently spoke with News@MITSloan about their experiences.

Q. Why did you pursue the Sloan Social Impact Fellowship?

Cassanego: I’m interested in the intersection of technology and society. Before attending MIT Sloan I worked in the tech sector and I wanted to spend the summer getting first-hand experience in the social sector.

Lein: I knew that I wanted to work in the social impact space. Prior to MIT Sloan, I served on the board of a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing after-school and summer literacy programs for low-income students. Revolution Foods was the perfect fit, because they deliver healthy meals and nutrition education to schools.

Q. What were your responsibilities?

Cassanego: I worked on the implementation of a new Student Information System (SIS), which the district uses to track test scores, grades, attendance, etc. I was responsible for varied tasks that ranged from data migration to teacher training.

Lein: My primary focus was on evaluating and assessing different technology options for a robust human capital management system. I conducted a needs assessment for the company, and evaluated various enterprise and SaaS systems for purchase and adoption.

Q. What did you learn while at your internship?

Cassanego: I learned a tremendous amount about the inner-workings of a large urban school district. The challenges faced by districts reach far beyond the treatment they usually receive in the press.

Lein: I learned a great deal about the growth and scaling of a successful business. Revolution Foods is in an interesting period of success and growth, and I was fortunate to witness the organizational effects of a major employee expansion.

Q. What was the highlight of your work?

Cassanego: Although it was just a small part of what I accomplished this summer, I am proud of having redesigned the progress reports and report cards for the students of Boston. I hope that the new design is both clear as well as professional.

Lein: The highlight of my work was having direct access to the co-founders, one of which was my supervisor. I learned a great deal from watching their management style — which is incredibly open and collaborative — as well as the building blocks of starting and growing a social enterprise.

Q. What are you looking forward to during your second year at MIT Sloan?

Cassanego: I’m excited to spend my second year working on social sector startups and propel my career into this exciting new direction.

Lein: I’m looking forward to pursuing my own business ideas in the social impact space. Revolution Foods was an inspiration for the application of business acumen to social problems, and I hope that I can emulate any of the lessons I learned from them.

Current MBA students are asked to pledge a day of their summer internship salary to support the SSIF — with additional funding coming from the Dean’s Office. First-year MBAs interested in the fund should contact Kate Valente (kate.valente@sloan.mit.edu) or Francisco Aquilar (francisco.aguilar@sloan.mit.edu), or visit the website. (http://ssif.mit.edu/).

Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Business and management, Education, teaching, academics, Graduate, postdoctoral, Students, Technology and society, Volunteering, outreach, public service

Back to the top