The internship programs seeks to expand opportunities for students to gain real world work experience with upcoming companies and ventures
The second annual “Students + Startups” program has just finished taking applications and, in the wake of a successful inaugural program, is expanding to connect more Trinity students with local startup businesses. The program is part of Trinity’s plan to develop more internship experiences for students.
The program, a collaboration between Trinity University, the 80/20 Foundation and Geekdom, matches upstart San Antonio companies with students from a range of majors in order to ensure a lucrative and beneficial experience for both the student interns and the companies they’re working with.
Jacob Tingle “˜95, director of Experiential Learning, spoke to the unique experiences that working for a startup can provide students.
“The Students + Startups program is an outstanding initiative that affords Trinity students of any major the opportunity to get real-world experience working with start-up companies “” organizations that are in true growth mode “” which is very different from working for a well-established, traditional company,” Tingle said.
Last summer was the program’s first year of implementation. Participating students receive one course credit, have the opportunity to live on campus at no cost and are given a $4,000 stipend. Tingle elaborated on how the program helps both students and local small businesses.
“The program has an academic component to it; that requires both the start-up and the student to slow down a little bit in advance of the internship and set some learning goals, [and] create a learning agreement together,” Tingle said. “[Students] get the best of both worlds. They get the experience of working with people who are amazingly creative, passionate, energetic people who might not otherwise slow down and say, “˜Oh wait, this is how you do this.'”
Luis Martinez, director of the entrepreneurship department, highlights the important roles that university students play in their internships.
“They’re typically very small organizations; might be a founder or founding team; the ability for a student to see how applicable their degree is in a small environment like that is incredibly powerful,” Martinez said. “You might be solely responsible for their social media, or to drive something forward that’s important for their business.”
Benjamin Gomez, senior double major in business and entertainment business, participated last summer as an intern for Event Escrow, a company that helps bands and agents decide efficient and lucrative tour routes. He found the responsibilities exciting.
“In working with a startup “¦ you’re given a lot more responsibility, a lot more hands-on time,” Gomez said. “That’s really neat because you get to impact the direction of the company and have a lot of input on something that is growing from the ground-up and is really fresh and new.”
Gomez praised the program for offering students a safe and easy way to get job experience.
“A lot of time when working internships “¦ you really want to do something cool and have a lot of say, but you end up just running coffee and doing it for no pay and losing money on housing,” Gomez said. “This program does exactly the opposite; you’re working in such an important capacity for your company while also getting a stipend and free housing.”
Another unique aspect of the program is that it offers opportunities for international students to work in the United States. International students often face legal constraints when looking for internships and other kinds of work, but Martinez assures that because Students + Startups is a Trinity program, students who are not U.S. citizens are afforded greater latitude.
Martinez mentions that companies in technology, medical devices, cuisine and other industries that are growing in the city. He further explained that the program will help Trinity provide more post-graduation connections for students.
“On the company side, the reason why we built [Students + Startups] is that we’ve historically had a really good relationship with large employers who look for Trinity grads,” Martinez said. “Expanding that pool of potential employers to include small organizations was an important objective.”
Martinez also noted that the program is greatly expanding this year.
“We started last year with about 14 students with a number of startup partners; every single one of our startup partners said that it was a great experience for them, it was something they want to go back and do,” Martinez said. “We’re excited to go back this year with approximately 40 students participating in the program.”
Tingle attributes much of the success of Students + Startups to Martinez’s work.
“The program wouldn’t exist without the passionate creativity and energy of Dr. Martinez,” Tingle said. “I consider myself lucky to have him as a colleague because he pushes the university to think in ways that universities might not typically think.”
For those interested in what’s to come for this year’s applicants, Martinez explains what students should expect.
“The next three weeks, the entire month of March and the last part of February, is really matchmaking,” Martinez said. “We’re not the ones who make that determination, about whether or not the student will work for a particular startup; that’s really between the student and the start-up together.”
Those interested in learning more about the program should visit studentsstartups.com, which features a timeline and detailed contact information.