How I Think About Volunteering After Attending Fuqua On Board Bootcamp

Kieran CosciaThis post was written by Kieran Coscia, Daytime MBA 2017. Kieran is from Nashville and a Gamecock. He has worked in banking and operations consulting in North Carolina, DC, and New York City. Prior to Fuqua, he spent three months traveling through South America and Asia. He plans to transition into strategy consulting or private equity following school and have a good time doing it.

I’ll admit it. Historically, when I’ve thought about volunteerism, I was completely wrong. Sadly, my modus operandi was “What’s in it for me?”

One of my favorite parts about Fuqua is that it’s made me question so many things about myself. For example, I’ve always thought I was a relatively smart guy who was good at communicating. After speaking with my classmates and seeing my grades on certain assignments, I’ve realized I have lots of room room for improvement in both of these two categories. Recently, I saw another instance of having my prior assumptions be challenged while at Fuqua in the form of the Fuqua on Board boot camp led by Susan Decker from BoardSource. The experience was amazing and made re-think the way I view nonprofits and volunteering. After leaving the session, I’m thinking about three questions to help guide anyone’s decision making when thinking about how to become involved in a nonprofit.

1) What am I passionate about? For me, it’s the advocacy of people with serious mental disorders such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Did you know that 25-50% of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide and that in aggregate a diagnosis results in a 9.2 years decrease in expected life span? These are two terribly sobering realities for an estimated 1-2% of the population that is largely suffering in silence. Whether you know it or not, one of your family members, coworkers, or classmates has directly dealt with serious mental illness. As you can probably guess, I was thrilled to find out that I had been matched to serve on the Board of Threshold Clubhouse, an organization that is doing amazing things to help this community.

2) What can I offer? I come from a background in banking and operations consulting, so like Liam Neeson in Taken, I have a particular set of skills that are relevant to helping nonprofits. By bringing the business skills that we learn at Fuqua and an understanding of how those skills apply in the nonprofit context, a Fuqua MBA can offer a lot to a nonprofit board.

3) What can I gain? I think that there is a serious misconception out there that all volunteering has to be entirely self-less. If you’ve met me, you probably have noticed that I am a bit of a hedonist and pragmatist. These two personality traits are not incongruous with volunteering. Through this experience, I can gain practical exposure to an industry such as Healthcare which directly aligns towards my goal of transitioning to strategy consulting or private equity following Fuqua.

To conclude, as I was looking across the room at my classmates who gave up their Saturday morning to attend the Fuqua on Board training, I was overwhelmed with excitement. The passion, drive, and energy that we bring will make a lasting impact on these organizations and I can’t think of a better example of Team Fuqua.