Confessions of an MBA Student Seeking Purpose Through Nonprofit Work

Matt Hamilton

Army veteran, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business MBA candidate, and TR intern Matt Hamilton shares how TR scratched his itch to help people.

My professional life is currently governed by one irony: I’m an MBA student who isn’t too interested in business. I normally get blank stares of confusion when I tell people that, usually followed by something like, “You left the Army after eight years to go to business school and not do business stuff afterwards?” Yep, pretty much. The only way I can explain it, I tell people, is that I wanted to continue to serve others but in a different way, and that business school felt like the right step.



While most of my classmates interned with investment banks, big tech companies, or consulting firms this summer, I wanted to spend my time doing something I considered a little more meaningful. Team Rubicon checked that box – I grew up in Tornado Alley with disaster response close to my heart – and had the extra benefit of being a veteran-heavy organization.

It also seemed like a good place to be innovative, entrepreneurial, and all the other buzzwords associated with fast-growing organizations. I also thought I might be able to gain a little clarity on that “figuring out how to best turn my experiences and life choices into a way to serve people” thing I’ve got going on.



I wasn’t disappointed. Over nine weeks, I witnessed the team working all hours of the night across four time zones to get Greyshirts where they’re needed. I felt the compassion amongst the Clay Hunt Fellows and saw Greyshirts, who would have otherwise been strangers, step up to help each other.

As I got to know the team members and Clay Hunt Fellows and read stories authored by Greyshirts, I realized all of us are still figuring it out. We’ve all got some kind of existential itch to scratch. We ask ourselves tough questions about who we are, what we’re meant for, and where we belong. Most of us can’t afford to pull a Thoreau and spend two years alone in a cabin working this stuff out, so we lean on each other for support and take it one step at a time.

Or, as it’s done in Team Rubicon, one shovelful at a time.

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