Last month, several of our NC State Net Impact students had the opportunity to escape the early fall chill in Raleigh and spend a few days in sunny Phoenix, AZ, for the annual Net Impact Conference. This year’s conference, NI18, took place from October 24-27, and was attended by over 1600 students representing more than 130 chapters from around the world. Thanks to support from the John Deere Foundation, five NC State students were able to participate in the conference.
The theme for this year’s conference, “Outside the Lines,” challenged and empowered attendees to defy conventional wisdom and practices and to explore the new trends and transformational changes that are emerging in our society, campuses, and company boardrooms around the world. Over the three days, students had the opportunity network with peers and professionals and choose from over 40 breakout sessions focused on impact investing, corporate impact, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy and the social sector, and much more.
A Career Expo on Friday allowed students to meet with representatives from companies such as Nike, Dell, Microsoft, and Bayer, among others, who are committed to hiring students that desire to make an impact in the areas of environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Each session catered to many different interests, passions, and abilities – so there was something for everyone to enjoy. While the abundance of topics was plentiful, our students found that the best part of the conference was witnessing firsthand the passion of their colleagues around them.
Ian Hopkins (B.S. Marketing ’19), President, Undergraduate Chapter of Net Impact at NC State, had this to say about his NI18 experience:“Fervor is one of the most contagious things known to man, and the inspiration I gained whilst being there is still burning hot in my chest. Hearing from Jeff Furman, executive board member of Ben & Jerry’s, about how they’ve made great strides in my home state of North Carolina to promote racial equity; hearing from True Colors Brewing and the progress they’ve made to reduce gang violence through entrepreneurship opportunity in Wilmington, made me believe that anyone can make a change, especially in the community that I’ve grown to love. Although I may not remember all the keynotes and breakout sessions ten years down the road, I will always remember one thing NI18 has taught me: if you surround yourself with like-minded individuals and never lose sight of your goals, nothing is impossible.”
One of the biggest takeaways for Jeff Terebey (Jenkins MBA ’19), the NC State Net Impact Graduate Chapter President, is that you don’t have to be in a position of leadership or have the perfect job in order to make a difference – you can lead from your seat, wherever that may be – even the tiniest of ripples can bring down the strongest of walls. Additionally, Jeff states that: “The breakout sessions that I attended had a powerful impact on me, and learning about various initiatives, both socially and environmentally, is very encouraging and gives me hope for our future. On a more personal level, I have begun to shift the focus of my long-term career aspirations as a result of my experience at NI18 as I can more clearly see the connections between the ways businesses can and should conduct themselves and the different ways in which their actions can influence positive change in our society.”
Next year’s conference will take place October 24-26 in Detroit, MI. Although both Ian and Jeff will be graduating at the end of the upcoming Spring semester, they will be able to take with them the experiences that they’ve gained to wherever they end up and will undoubtedly be able to apply what they’ve learned in meaningful ways.