As the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic escalated in the spring, so did the harsh reality that many Case Western Reserve University students may experience delays, disruptions or even cancellations to their summer jobs and internships.
In response, Weatherhead School of Management’s career management office, in partnership with the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship and Post-Graduate Planning & Experiential Education, teamed up to create the Remote Entrepreneurship Project (REP) Program. The experience offers students the unique opportunity to work virtually on projects for startup companies during the summer months.
The program was open to students across campus in several schools. So far, eight Weatherhead graduate students from four programs and 29 Weatherhead undergraduate students have been matched with startups that align with their fields and interests. Each student accepted to the REP program will receive a stipend of $500.
Participating startups range from business-to-business software companies to real estate, educational technology, consumer products and services and more. While 70 percent of the startups are located in northeast Ohio, many are located throughout the country. When the program was publicized, nearly 150 startups quickly rose to the occasion to offer projects and internships for students.
Michael Goldberg, executive director of the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship and associate professor of design and innovation at Weatherhead, says the mutual demand from both students and startups has exceeded his expectations.
“The speed of responses we received from the participating startups was incredible,” Goldberg said. “Not only are these companies from a diverse group of industries, and some even run by young alumni, but they have also expressed a willingness to mentor our students and help provide the real-world experience they need to excel in their careers.”
Andrew Krauter, a second-year student in the full-time MBA program, was in the final stages of interviews for summer internships at two different highly-regarded financial institutions when he discovered that both opportunities would be suspended due to COVID-19.
“The REP program seems to be exactly what was needed,” Krauter said. “Having the ability to match students with companies that were all put in a tight spot really produced the opportune time to create such a program.”
Krauter is working on projects for Brite Energy Innovators, an energy-focused incubator for startups within the energy and manufacturing industries. He says because of the concentrated matching process that aims to pair interests of students with company needs, he immediately clicked with the company after speaking to them.
Similarly, Manpreet Kaur, a student in the MSM-Finance program, had an internship lined up this summer that was cut short due to COVID-19 related circumstances. Now, she will be interning for startup HotSpot CookTop utilizing her research, marketing and financial skills.
“The Weatherhead team has been so helpful in the placement process, and the Veale Center has done a great job in quickly locating the companies,” Kaur said. “The program is important because it gives students a chance to still gain experience over the summer in a meaningful and fun way.”
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