Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

A Peek Into the Profitable Elements of the Non-Profit World

What comes to mind when you think of working for a non-profit organization?

Before interning at WEST , my view towards non-profits was skewed. The great business stories of our generation are mostly for-profit organizations: the entrepreneurs, the tech savvy, the green evolutionists, and even the social entrepreneurs are all involved in profit generation. In fact, their “for-profit-ness”, for lack of a better term, is what provides them the resources to be more competitive and become the best in the game. This begs the question, are non-profits NOT competitive or resourceful? My hope is that this summer internship I am a part of continues to give me insight into answering this very question.

Although I was not previously interested in the non-profit realm of business in particular, I was drawn to WEST at Babson’s Internship Fair because of its strong focus on women. WEST was founded about 12 years ago by a physicist, but only really took off a year and a half ago. Within the past year and a half, Ilene Fischer ( the Executive director) and her assistant, Christa Descheneaux have transformed the company. Yes, there is ALOT of room for improvement, but what has already been done in the company thus far cannot be contested.

The acronym WEST used to stand for Women in Engineering Science and Technology. The “E” evolved to Entrepreneurs, and more recently, there is less of a focus on the acronym but more on the mission tag line: “advancing women in the business of science and technology”. And that is really what we eat, live, and breathe over at WEST. I am responsible for the business development of the organization, so the bulk of my work has been establishing relationships with potential corporate partners and sponsors. Besides membership fees, this is essentially how WEST manages to stay afloat financially. Because WEST is a small organization, my tasks vary, and every now and then I get thrown into different areas of the organization and I am given different tasks- for instance; editing the website, or providing marketing material.

From what I have seen (I started two weeks ago), WEST operates very much like a start-up company, and I love this aspect about it. Additionally, I get to work alongside Ilene, listen in on her meetings and calls, and attend the events that we, as a team, organize. I also get one-on-one training sessions from professionals who volunteer for WEST. I am learning a lot, and I’m looking forward to not only learning some more, but applying what I’m learning in realtime.

Stay tuned for more blog posts as I explore the profitable elements of the non-profit world!