180 Degrees Consulting offers Hertie School students experience in social impact organisations

Students will get training in consulting for non-profits.

The Hertie School and 180 Degrees Consulting Berlin (180DC) have launched a new partnership that will give students training and practical experience in consulting for non-profits and social enterprises. The first students will be selected this fall to participate in a six-month extracurricular programme. 180DC will also make its virtual workshops available to Hertie School students.

180DC is an international consultancy with chapters around the world. Founded in 2007, it operates 150 branches in 35 countries, relying entirely on the expertise of top university students. It is the largest university-based pro bono consulting firm in the world, according to Danilo Sales Costa, 180DC’s Partnership Manager in Berlin.

“Our mission is to help organisations that normally are not able to receive support from consultancies to reach their full potential,” Sales Costa said. The Berlin Chapter runs a programme in which teams of young professionals receive training in consulting methodologies and then use those skills to support a social impact organisation. All work is done in English.  

Workshops and other events will be advertised through Hertie Connect and the campus newsletter. 180DC will also participate in the Hertie School consulting fair that takes place every September.

“The calibre of Hertie students and alumni is well known to us, and having them as consultants in our organisation means that we are better equipped to support social enterprises and charities to achieve their full potential, while empowering the next generation of change makers,” says Sales Costa.

As a student in the Hertie School’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) programme, Sales Costa did an internship with 180DC and went on to join the non-profit permanently after earning his MPP degree in 2019.

Sales Costa hails from Brazil and says one of the things that drew him to 180DC was its diverse, international staff. The organisation deliberately recruits people with a broad variety of backgrounds – both regional and in terms of expertise – because the needs of its clients are so diverse.

The objective of the partnership is to provide outstanding students with an opportunity to gain professional skills in a multidisciplinary team, he said.  “We are not looking for people with specific backgrounds. You can be from an engineering school or from a public policy school, but diversity is very important for our methodology,” he said. “Our focus is on design thinking, and part of design thinking is about bringing people with different perspectives together.”

The Berlin chapter of 180DC takes on consulting projects with four or five organisations every semester, Sales Costa explained. After the Hertie School students are recruited they will be grouped into teams of five consultants with students from other universities, based on their profiles. Students are trained in practical skills like how to work with a client, how to run a workshop, and how to do research. Afterwards, they are assigned to an organisation. At the end of the programme, they write a report and present their recommendations at an event.

“We have a tradition of recruiting from Hertie and we have a few Hertie alumni in the executive team, like myself,” says Sales Costa. “So there was already an informal partnership, but now we want to formalise it and take it to the next level.”

Students also receive a certificate and letter of recommendation at the end of the programme. “When they finish, they can not only say they completed their master’s, but they have also been engaged in a project for an organization on a meaningful objective, improving housing or kids’ eating habits or many other things. So this is really a great experience,” says Sales Costa.

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