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Internships offer a taste of the startup life

Around South Florida, organizations have mobilized to immerse talented college and high school students into the startup life.

SAM_0253Venture Hive, the accelerator/incubator in downtown Miami, held an Intern Open House last week (pictured here) with 19 startup companies and 57 high school and college students, said Susan Amat, Venture Hive’s founder. The high school students were part of Miami-Dade Schools’ tech-oriented magnet programs, said Amat, who also chairs the Miami-Dade County Schools STEM Board, and university students came from FIU and other schools.

  Some startups hired interns on the spot while others scheduled follow-on interviews. “These companies see the importance of preparing the next generation of technologists and entrepreneurs in South Florida,” said Amat, who was on her way Friday to South Africa, where she was speaking at the World Bank Global Innovation Conference and running a four-day workshop for startups.     

The LAB Miami in Wynwood is holding a Startup Speed Interviewing event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, for rising seniors from magnet high schools, said Wifredo Fernandez, the LAB’s CEO. While the internship program offered through the Miami-Dade Schools is not new, pushing the program to startups is.

As part of the internship, students will be working 30 hours a week for five weeks. “We really commend the startups who are stepping up as leaders and providing life-changing opportunities for these students,” said Fernandez, adding that the project is a direct result of a recommendation during Rokk Miami last month.

There are more than 30 startups signed up, and some of them would like more than one intern. Fernandez expects at least 60 high school students to participate in the “speed interviewing” event. Companies can still sign up through midnight Monday, May 27, by  registering here.

The Enterprise Development Corp. launched an internship program for college-level business students, including MBAs, who are paired with startup tech companies. The interns work at their sponsoring companies Monday through Thursday and come together on Fridays for workshops, speakers and networking at MEC261, a new entrepreneurship center in downtown Miami, said Gerard Roy, who is directing the EDC program. The program began May 20 and culminates with a public event Aug. 9. 

Roy, who had five internships himself, is modeling the program after one he ran in San Francisco. In addition to helping the companies with marketing, finance or operations, the interns work on a major project throughout the summer. “I want the interns to feel a sense of ownership,” he said.

As part of the One Community One Goal initiative, a Beacon Council committee is working on a county-wide internship program with a goal of placing at least 200 students from local universities and high schools into paid internships every year, said Irma Becerra-Fernandez, vice president of Engagement at FIU, who is helping coordinate the project. The idea is to create one central clearinghouse for college and high school internships.

The intern positions will be aligned with the seven industries outlined in One Community One Goal. Sponsors from companies, nonprofits and government are being lined up and the working group hopes to get the program off the ground shortly, said Becerra-Fernandez. For students that seek real world experience, companies that want an efficient way to find interns and an economy that needs to combat brain drain, the program will be a win-win-win, she said.

Pic01_zpsd7c2c290Gregory Johnson, pictured here, didn’t wait around for a program. As a senior at Miami Union Academy, he became interested in all things entrepreneurial and reading books by entrepreneurs, watching TED talks and networking at local tech events. That led to an opportunity at Project Lift Miami, the new healthcare-tech accelerator at the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park. He graduated this month and is interning about 30 hours a week, learning as much as he can from the five businesses in the accelerator and helping them with social media strategy and research. Johnson plans to attend Oakwood University in Alabama in the fall, studying finance and marketing. “My career goal is to be a social entrepreneur,” said Johnson, who also interned for the Obama campaign. “I want to learn as much as I can.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/26/3418405/wanted-a-taste-of-the-startup.html#storylink=cpy

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