Creating a Life of Social Innovation

Creating a Life of Social Innovation

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PROVO, Utah – Dec 10, 2019 – When Hank Taylor graduated from BYU in 2013, he felt he had to choose just one focus. But like many other students trying to decide their future careers, his interests spanned beyond just his economics major. Throughout his time at BYU, he had participated at BYU Marriott’s Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance as a team lead and student director for the center’s Social Innovation Projects. While working with the Ballard Center, he found his drive to work for companies hoping to do good, better.

Split between his passion for social innovation and his interest in economics and technology, Taylor didn’t know where to go after graduation. He applied for jobs with companies he considered socially impactful but didn’t get any offers. “There’s a realism at the Ballard Center that not everyone can work at a company that is socially impactful,” says Taylor. “But if you think about how to always do good, better, you can carry that commitment with you throughout your life regardless of where you work.”

After graduation he worked for a variety of companies in marketing and revenue-operations roles. When presented with an opportunity to work at Lambda School, a live, skills-based online school that trains people to be software engineers, Taylor jumped at the chance. “Social innovation is finding ways to systematically change a challenging problem and to find an underserved population and serve them in a sustainable meaningful way,” says Taylor. “Lambda School is doing that—it checks all my boxes.”

Lambda School’s educational model turns the traditional model on its head. Rather than making its students pay tuition up front and take on debilitating student loans, Lambda School costs nothing until the student is hired making $50,000 a year or more. Students are able to do this with income share agreements, where students agree to pay back a percentage of their income for a couple years after graduating. Taylor believes alternative models such as Lambda School may be the future.

Using this new model opens up doors for a diverse range of students who are often underserved in traditional higher education. “People from all demographics will go all in on Lambda School and have life-changing events and incredible results,” says Taylor. “Some of Lambda School’s most touching success stories involve single moms, veterans, and people who were nearly homeless before they started our courses.”

According to Taylor, Lambda School and BYU Marriott are unique in the educational field for putting a premium on job placement after graduation. “BYU Marriott puts so much focus on recruiting, résumés, and interviewing,” says Taylor. “I talked to friends at other universities who were amazed that BYU Marriott was like this.”

Taylor is grateful that his time at BYU gave him the skills to be successful and the mindset of developing a life of service. “I admire that BYU Marriott focuses on how to make students succeed after graduation,” says Taylor.

Even though Taylor didn’t get a job in a socially innovative company right out of BYU, he still found ways to give back. “You want to try to do good the best way you can,” says Taylor. One company he frequently contributes to is Kiva, a nonprofit that crowdfunds loans for low-income entrepreneurs in over eighty countries. He tries to give small loans through Kiva whenever possible and has also set up accounts for his children to help them develop a spirit of social impact.

For students in situations where pursuing social innovation straight out of college may not be an option, Taylor encourages keeping a long-term perspective about their career and interests.

“If the Ballard Center didn’t teach me to think long term, I would have been bummed that I didn’t get a social innovation job right out of college—I would have forgotten about my passion for the field,” says Taylor. “But because the Ballard Center helped me look at social innovation as a lifelong journey, I kept looking. People need to be vigilant about how to do good, better.”

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