When Elisha Clark began her co-​​op in India last Jan­uary as an Eng­lish instructor, her inter­ests were focused on the social sci­ences. Now, one suc­cessful dog show later, she sees the value in pur­suing a future in business.

The inter­na­tional affairs major at North­eastern worked as an instructor in the Desh­pande Fel­low­ship Pro­gram. The pro­gram uses a rotating cur­riculum of 30 mod­ules to train young men and women — many of them from poor vil­lages with sub­stan­dard schools– to become leaders in the busi­ness or devel­op­ment sectors.

For a class project in the social entre­pre­neur­ship module, Clark’s stu­dents staged a dog show, a small-​​scale ver­sion of the famed West­min­ster Kennel Club’s show in New York City.

They combed the area for dif­ferent breeds, asked vet­eri­nar­ians to serve as judges, and obtained spon­sors. The show, which included 110 dogs, was a hit, said Clark. It gave some­thing new to the area, attracted media atten­tion, and raised money for the fel­low­ship program.

The expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity showed Clark that entre­pre­neur­ship could make a dif­fer­ence, leading her to con­sider busi­ness school.

This job has shown me that busi­ness isn’t just finance or the cor­po­rate life that I had always envi­sioned, but can really be just the prac­tical side of big ideas,” said Clark. “A friend put it really well– busi­ness is ‘how you get things done.’ I think that is the side of the MBA that I find appealing.”

Clark’s expe­ri­ence is yet another example of how North­eastern University’s co-​​op pro­gram broadens hori­zons and changes out­looks. Since March, Clark has taken on varied management-​​oriented respon­si­bil­i­ties, including men­toring and con­sulting roles in recruit­ment, strategy and busi­ness plan­ning, with the goal of making the fel­low­ship pro­gram inde­pen­dent from its orig­inal funding agency.

She is also sup­porting the program’s alumni who need help starting new orga­ni­za­tions, cre­ating a guide­book for cus­tomizing the pro­gram to stu­dents’ par­tic­ular skills, working on an eco­nomic impact assess­ment, and searching for and training three people to replace her when her com­mit­ment ends in mid-​​July.

From the begin­ning, said Clark, her biggest chal­lenge was teaching stu­dents to think crit­i­cally, beyond the sur­face of a problem, and to be inno­v­a­tive. “They’d see a story in the news­paper, and repeat exactly what hap­pened without thinking crit­i­cally about what might have caused the sit­u­a­tion to occur,” she said.

My job was to get them out of that habit and ask them, ‘What would you do to alter the situation?’”