A Summer of Insight, Inspiration, and Innovation

By Karli Thode, Communication Intern The Office of Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Each year the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship sponsors the
Entrepreneurial Summer Fellows Program, which provides a limited number of stipends (up to $3,000) for students who seek to learn about or gain experience in entrepreneurial management. This program provides students the opportunity to intern with new and emerging organizations, with mature organizations initiating entrepreneurial activities, with organizations in an industry in which the student would like to start or buy a company, or with a faculty or student-managed start-up. The internships can be in either for-profit or not-for-profit environments.

This past summer, a total of 22 students representing a wide range of disciplines including accounting, anthropology, biology, business, chemistry, communication, economics, mathematics, philosophy, studio art, and politics and international affairs, pursued these learning experiences that complimented their career goals. We learned about their summer experiences through their summer Blog and a poster presentation held on August 26th.

Some students chose to develop a business plan for their own new venture.  Others chose experiences in external organizations that afforded them opportunities to learn aspects of entrepreneurship and to have access to founders and top management.  Several of the internship projects are highlighted below.

For undergraduate student, Ollie Spalding, it was his desire to pursue economics, entrepreneurship, Spanish and philanthropy that led him to an opportunity working directly with entrepreneurs at a start-up organization in Nicaragua. As he says, “this opportunity provided a synergy of all my passions.” AMOS Health & Hope is an organization that primarily serves rural Nicaragua with health and community development strategies.  This student specifically worked to spearhead AMOS’s entrepreneurial development program for their existing micro-finance program by writing a business plan and doing market research of similar organizations.  He traveled to a rural community to do first-hand research and experience the day to day life of the community members to understand how improvements in the business model would impact the community. 

Senior Communication major, Shelby Taylor, spent the summer learning the ropes of a new venture, Campus Grumble, while experiencing “both the joys of making an impact and the hardships of starting a company from nothing.” Her main project was to build a comprehensive campus marketing campaign that would ensure maximum impact on the undergraduate audience at Wake Forest University. This project required extensive qualitative research in addition to the use of website analytics, which were used to reveal key insights to future web development.  Shelby’s main objective was to develop a marketing campaign to engage first-year students early on in their Wake Forest careers. Her research led her to the development of a ‘sister site’ designed specifically for first-years, which she was later able to pitch to Campus Grumble executives.

Divinity student, Brittani Chavious, spent her summer working to further develop her own entrepreneurial venture. HerSpace, Inc. is an organization that houses an umbrella of programs that provide an inspiring and transformative place for young girls and women to become “unapologetically confident in their own space.” Brittani applied for the Summer Entrepreneurial Fellows program because she was searching for the opportunity to invest [her] time, knowledge, passion and resources into strengthening the foundation and framework of the organization. Brittani’s passion is what makes her proposition so unique, and she plans to excel as a social entrepreneur and the future full-time leader of HerSpace, Inc. after obtaining her master’s degree.

Charlie Garner, a Mathematics major, had an interest in gaining insights on running a successful start-up.  He gained first-hand knowledge with a local commercial waste management start-up company based in Lexington, NC. Over the course of the summer, Charlie placed over 3,000 phone calls that generated nearly $11,000 in quotes per month from businesses all over the Triad!   His initial hope in securing the internship was to be able to learn enough to decide whether a start-up is the path that he would like to someday follow. He discovered that running a successful start-up requires a lot of hard work and the wearing of many hats.  This internship was made possible by Eric Hill who serves on the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Advisory Council.

Senior Communication major, Kristen Watkins’ entrepreneurial spirit and passion for others led her all the way to Ghana where she spent her summer interning as a Project Leader for A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN). ABAN is a non-profit organization that helps street girls and the environment of Acuri, Ghana by providing shelter, seamstress training, Business, English, Math and Life Skills education. Kristen worked as the team leader for a group that taught computer literacy to young women and was also responsible for preparing trip logistics, motivating, and communicating with volunteers.

The stipends are made possible by the Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Endowment Fund for Entrepreneurship and the Liberal Arts, The Chambers Family Fund for Entrepreneurship, and the Leila and David Farr Endowment.

Students will have the opportunity to apply for the 2014 Entrepreneurial Summer Fellows Program in April 2014.