Internships are a rite of passage for many students. What better way to gain valuable real-world experience, while making connections and building a network? As many traditional internship experiences were cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became quickly clear to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill innovation and entrepreneurship leaders that they needed to quickly develop a new type of internship program.
Program leaders from Innovate Carolina, the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship and The Entrepreneurship Center at Kenan-Flagler Business School (KFBS) pulled together – and then partnered with District C – to create a virtual, summer consulting internship pilot program.
Officially launched this summer, the Entrepreneurial Consulting Internship Program provides students with a hands-on learning experience by connecting them with startups and business partners to solve complex problems within a condensed timeframe. The pilot program was a tremendous success, benefitting 40 students and ten participating companies that span a range of diverse industries, from sports administration to fashion to technology.
“Without our innovation and entrepreneurial partners coming together, this program would not have been possible,” says Sheryl Waddell, director of the Innovate Carolina Global Network, who worked in concert with leaders from the Shuford Program, the Entrepreneurship Center and District C to quickly launch the virtual internships this spring. “We are so pleased with the results of the program, the learning experience it provided, and the work the students and companies were able to accomplish together in such a short timeframe.”
One company that participated in the inaugural program was Substantial Magazine, a premier minority magazine headquartered in Greenville, North Carolina. The magazine worked with a team of four students: Connor Folk (Shuford Program), Emmanuelle Garcia (Shuford Program), Yingxi Huang (Kenan-Flagler Business School) and Becky Ug (Shuford Program).
“We were tasked with helping Substantial Magazine transition into Substantial Media, a multimedia company for minorities in eastern North Carolina,” says Folk. “As part of our work, we gave recommendations on advertisement pricing, pricing models, social media presence and youth involvement programs. It was a very wide-ranging problem, so we were really able to be very creative with our suggestions and research.”