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USF internship program matches students with ethically responsible businesses

Jaymi Butler

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Students from all three USF campuses will participate in the newly created Business for Good internship program. The program brings students and business leaders together in a consultancy model with the goal of helping businesses achieve their B Corp Certification.

More than two dozen University of South Florida students are getting the chance to learn how to support socially and environmentally responsible businesses as they prepare for their B Corp certification.

Through the new Business for Good internship program, students will work directly with business leaders on the B Impact Assessment, a tool that helps get companies ready to become Certified B Corporations. Companies that earn this designation balance purpose and profit and are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.

“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.”

Participants in the remote internship program, 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, will come from all three campuses and will represent a variety of majors and academic disciplines. They’ll be placed with one of seven businesses across various industries in Florida and Texas and will receive their training through B is for Benefit, an organization that offers services to academic institutions that wish to incorporate the intersectional nature of sustainability with business strategy through internships.

Emma Jacobs, a student at USF’s St. Petersburg campus, came up with the idea for the program after she completed a previous internship where she was charged with certifying the firm she was working with as a B Corporation. 

“It was the most valuable experiential learning opportunity I have received in my entire college career,” said Jacobs, who worked alongside leaders from the Bishop Center and B is for Benefit to create Business for Good. “This internship will provide others with a similar experience.” 

According to the Bishop Center’s Bekah Vigil – herself a grad student studying anthropology on the St. Pete campus – this type of internship is something that students have been requesting for a long time. 

“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,” she said. 

David O’Neill, director of the Bishop Center, said that the internship program further reinforces USF’s commitment to 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,” he said. “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.”

And in turn, businesses will get help on their certification journey, making it a win-win for everyone involved.

“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 Tampa-based eSmart Recycling, one of the businesses that will host interns. “We are passionate about what we build, and the opportunity to share that passion is the highlight of why we do what we do.”

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