Internships Sharpen Entrepreneurial Edge
Working alongside the owner of a company is standard practice for interns participating in the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Stacy Noe, program coordinator for the initiative, manages the internship program. It started with three students in 2007, and today more than 40 companies have participated to support 20 internships annually. "The biggest difference compared to typical internships is that these students are exposed to the challenges of running the business because they are involved in the operation of the entire company," Noe says. Entrepreneurial mentors are matched with the right students for the best experience. That match worked for Shane Mairet ('09 horticulture) when he interned at Wallace's Garden Center in Bettendorf, Iowa. The internship served as a springboard for Mairet, who opened his own business two weeks after graduation. "I met a lot of people, including distributors and suppliers, which turned out to be significantly important when I opened my own garden center," Mairet says.