Helping interns work with entrepreneurs and learn how to start a business

January 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

How many of your students want to start a business when they graduate?

Since the job market is tight, starting a business is a great way to jump-start a career. While a great idea for many reasons, most students:

  • don’t know how to get started
  • don’t yet understand what’s involved
  • lack experience and useful connections in the industry
  • don’t have connections with investors

One great way to get a glimpse at the myriad of skills and experiences needed to start a business is for students to do an internship with an entrepreneur. The type of business isn’t as important as the willingness of the entrepreneur to include the intern in all phases of the enterprise. By performing or assisting in the startup operation, your students will learn the importance of a good business plan, how to create a budget, hire employees, develop a marketing plan, and negotiate with investors. Because most startups are small companies, interns get more responsibility than in large organizations.

So where can find an entrepreneur who will happily accept them as an intern? Networking. Suggest that your students go to every possible event, speaker series, seminars, social events, family reunions, etc., and talk to everyone about his/her work in order to expand their networks. You might draw up a list of local entrepreneurs willing to have your students as interns and then organize a workshop or seminar featuring these entrepreneurs.

Since most startups are working on a tight budget, your students will probably not receive a salary. But the payoff for hands-on education and information is worth every free minute. Remind your students that the secret to a great internship with an entrepreneur is that they should be truly passionate about taking the internship and knowing what they want to get out of it.  Even after the internship is over, most entrepreneurs will remain available to mentor their interns turned entrepreneurs, helping your students steer a clear path to future success.



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  1. This is a great post and makes a lot of sense. I completely agree. We actually have a client, College Works Painting, that follows along with this advise. They help students start their own “small business” painting homes, and the students learn business skills and leadership skills. It is a great program for any student who needs an internship. Check them out here –

    • Amanda,
      Thanks for that information! I’ve had several students that have interned for companies similar to your suggestion. It can be a “tough business” but the successes and not-so-successes are very valuable learning experiences that really stick with the students!

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