Student Entrepreneur Program Offers Stepping Stone for UMass Boston Interns
October 10, 2012
UMass Boston senior Bertrand Muhire signed an offer letter Tuesday for a paid market-research internship at the Boston-based startup Smart Lunches, becoming the 100th intern placed through the university’s Student Entrepreneur Program (StEP).
The Entrepreneurship Center at UMass Boston started the StEP program four years ago, and the results were immediate. Seventy percent of the interns placed through StEP are eventually hired as full-time employees.
Daniel Phillips, director of the Entrepreneurship Center, said there are a number of reasons for StEP’s strong track record, which has earned media attention.
“There is a need. The entrepreneur economy in Massachusetts is vibrant, and the No. 1 challenge is finding a qualified work force,” Phillips said. “We have evolved over the last four years from one-on-one mentoring to workshops to a curriculum of courses specifically designed to prepare students for a career in the startup economy.”
Students like Muhire, a management science information systems (MSIS) major originally from Rwanda, are an appealing option for startup companies.
“There's nothing like someone who's really motivated by the opportunity to learn and to make a difference in a small firm,” said Emily Green, CEO of Smart Lunches. “Students don't know what's hard or impossible, and have a tremendous sense of possibility and the future not weighed down by how things used to be done.”
Smart Lunches, founded by two moms in 2011, provides nutritious lunches to schools, daycare centers, and summer camps. The company also operates Smart Snax vending machines. Green said Muhire will be researching new markets and designing a new database for the company’s expanding client list.
Muhire said he is looking forward to utilizing his information systems focus and gaining some hands-on experience.
“I am also hoping to become familiar with industry standards, get myself on a career path, and grow professionally,” Muhire said.
“The majority of StEP alumni are offered a full-time position at the end of their internships. I am looking forward to working hard, so that if I am offered such an opportunity I will be ready,” Muhire said.
UMass Boston students interested in the program must first complete a video workshop. To register, students must email their cover letter and resume to email@example.com. A career services specialist will follow up.
The Student Entrepreneur Program staffers haven’t taken much time to reflect on the 100th intern milestone. In fact, the center has already placed interns Nos. 101 and 102.
Alex Kreopolides, a senior in the College of Management, has been hired for a sales/marketing internship with Hancock Software, an energy auditing software tool and platform startup. And MBA student Tsung-Han Shen earned a finance internship with Neurala, a brain-based solution for mobile robots that’s in residence at UMass Boston’s Venture Development Center.
“A personality that is unentitled, committed, loyal, hard-working, a self-starter, and can handle ambiguity and adversity is the right personality for a startup,” Phillips said. “This is the personality and culture of the UMass student body.”