A recently formed partnership between the Department of Management and a Greenville-based entrepreneurial support organization will add to the growing number of internships available to students in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business.
The internships are a result of collaboration among NEXT’s interim CEO Ken Brower, the Department of Management’s Craig Wallace, professor and department chair; Chad Navis, Arthur M. Spiro Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership and the University’s Center for Career and Professional Development.
Founded in 2006, NEXT supports the Upstate’s high-growth entrepreneurial community through a variety of networking, facilities, mentoring and learning opportunities. NEXT has relationships with more than 130 start-up companies in the Upstate.
“We are excited about this partnership with Clemson, which matches the best-and-brightest interns with invaluable opportunities at some of Greenville’s most promising high-growth firms,” Brower said. “Just as these NEXT-supported firms benefit from the high-quality human capital they covet, the students gain exceptional hands-on learning in the Upstate’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Wallace said the NEXT partnership gives students a window into some outstanding job and learning opportunities that might not otherwise be on their radar screens.
“By partnering with NEXT, Clemson not only introduces students to promising, high-growth companies in their own backyard, it’s convenient and increases the opportunity for our students to be hired by these amazing start-ups and remain in the Upstate after graduation,” Wallace said. “It’s not only a win-win, for the students and start-ups, but also for Clemson and NEXT.”
Working and learning through internships at start-ups also affords students benefits they might not be exposed to by working with traditional larger firms typically recognized as fixtures in the local economy
“Outside of the experience and confidence-building these internships provide, students are getting face time with the owners and executive leadership of these smaller, high-growth companies,” Navis said. “That kind of exposure not only is a confidence-builder, but students gain a bigger-picture understanding of the challenges these companies face and often times are presented opportunities to help address those challenges.”
Leah Hughes, assistant director of employer connections with the college’s Office of Career and Global Engagement, said more than 450 off-campus internships are available to students in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business students in an average year.
“Any time we can increase our students’ opportunities to gain valuable experiential learning through an internship we are making a significant impact on their employment marketability,” she said. “This local partnership has the potential to significantly add to our 80 percent student internship participation, which is well above the national average.”
Six students have already accepted internships at several of the NEXT-affiliated start-up companies.
Marketing and Financial Management double major Johanna Stevenson is interning with digital marketing agency Engenius, an experience she says built her confidence and gave her “a 360 view of the company.”
“I’m wearing a lot of hats as an account team intern,” the Albany, N.Y., native said. “Because it’s a small company, I’m involved in many of Engenius’ initiatives, and clients, and have access to the leadership team. They involve me in everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better experiential learning opportunity.”
Johanna, a junior, is carrying 16 credits and works 10 to 12 hours a week in Engenius’ Greenville office. She says the transition from classroom to the real world has been a smooth one, yet eye-opening.
“I took my first selling course, Professional Sales, in the spring semester and it’s been enlightening to see it go from classroom theory and role playing to really interacting with clients in a professional setting and experiencing them signing a proposal. I’ve learned much more than I anticipated and have a achieved a level of confidence that I can take into the classroom and into whatever career I end up in.”
Navis said the overall aim with the internship partnership is to facilitate high-quality matches between the needs and opportunities of each company and the talents and interests of our best students.
“These companies will become our internship partners in learning for each of our students, who will be mentored by a college faculty or staff member,” he added.
Johanna, 20, said it was “scary going into my first real-world internship,” but as time went on, she realized she hadn’t overpromised on her capabilities during the hiring process.
“I realized early on that I hadn’t overpromised anything and that I really was bringing value to the team in handling responsibilities that were important but that my colleagues didn’t have time to do,” she added. “I’m beginning to take on responsibilities with confidence and not second-guessing myself on dealing with clients. In whatever career I get into, I want to make a difference, and the experience with Engenius has put me on a path where I’ll feel comfortable in a professional environment, wherever it might be.”
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