The Students + Startups summer internship program plans to expand its reach in 2019, opening applications to students from other colleges and universities. Previously, the program had only been available to Trinity students.
Students + Startups is a collaboration between Trinity’s department of entrepreneurship, the 80/20 Foundation — a nonprofit focused on encouraging entrepreneurship in San Antonio — and Geekdom — a coworking space for tech-focused startups. The program provides students with opportunities to intern at startups in the San Antonio area over the summer, free housing and a stipend — half of which is paid for by the startups, while the other half is funded by the 80/20 Foundation.
Luis Martinez, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is the originator and director of the Students + Startups program. Martinez explained that the program is expecting to admit 100–120 student participants this year. Fifteen students participated in the program during its first year in 2016, and that number grew to 61 by 2018.
“The 80/20 Foundation is very excited about spreading the word about the exciting things that are happening in Students + Startups here in San Antonio to a wider audience,” Martinez said. “[The program has] had a tremendous demand from schools from around the country who are very interested and excited to be participating in this program.”
Martinez anticipates that those applicants who do not live within driving distance of San Antonio will participate in interviews via Skype, while students in San Antonio will continue to attend interviews in person. Several methods are being utilized to promote the Students + Startups program to students from other universities, including Handshake, Trinity’s job opportunity platform.
“The Students + Startups program will be listed on Handshake for other universities,” Martinez said. “We’ll be utilizing additional outreach channels that are specific to certain kinds of universities, so for example, there are certain student groups and alumni groups that exist.”
Martinez believes that there will also be an increase in the number of startups willing to participate in the program next year.
“The demand has just been amazing,” Martinez said. “Our goal is to have approximately 60 startups participating next year.”
Carmen Aramanda, programs manager for the entrepreneurship department, said that there will not be any spots in Students + Startups set aside specifically for Trinity students.
“I have been reviewing student applications since the beginning of the program and I believe Trinity students are globally competitive, not just nationally competitive,” Aramanda said. “We’re not going to set aside a number of seats because we don’t need to.”
Since the number of applicants and interns is expected to increase next summer, Aramanda explained that additional support for the program is being sought out.
“We just hired another coordinator in the entrepreneurship office. The 80/20 Foundation is hiring an additional support person to come in as a Students + Startups liaison,” Aramanda said. “We’re expanding our pool of volunteers who help select the candidates. We had a group of three last year reviewing applicants and we’ll be growing that to an appropriate number based on how many applications we receive.”
According to Martinez, details about housing for students in the program are still being worked out with Residential Life, but Martinez expects that the program will continue to provide students with free summer housing despite increased numbers.
Aramanda has been able to hear some reactions to the expansion from both students and startups that previously participated in the program.
“I have had feedback from some of the students in the program. They said they’re really excited to see it growing,” Aramanda said. “Their feedback was that they thought the program was stronger this year than it has been in previous years, and they were excited at the opportunity to engage with what they came to feel was their city. As far as the companies go, they love working with Trinity students, we get that all the time that Trinity students are next level caliber of talent and they feel comfortable and confident in hiring a Trinity student to come on and join their team.”
Junior Jack Janezic participated in Students + Startups in both 2017 and 2018.
“I really like the Students + Startups program,” Janezic said. “I feel like it’s a really good way — especially if you’re not from San Antonio — to get involved in the local startup community. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship it’s a really good way to dive in head first and really see what the true startup community is like.”
Janezic found out about the expansion at the end-of-year party for Students + Startups in July 2018 and expressed his excitement about the expansion.
“It’s definitely going to be a lot more competitive for Trinity students, but I know that that’s a good thing and that you really have to prove yourself above the rest,” Janezic said. “I also really like the ability to meet new people.”
Junior Emily Cruz participated in Students + Startups in the summer of 2018. Cruz had a very positive experience in the program and shared Janezic’s excitement towards the expansion.
“I am excited for the program to expand because there will be more opportunities for students to apply what is learned in the classroom to a real-world environment that is not like most,” Cruz wrote in an email interview. “After a summer like the one I just described and the experiences I have gained through the program, it will be exciting to see how many more students besides the ones at Trinity and in San Antonio will benefit from it too.”
Students are encouraged to apply for summer 2019 and can learn more about the program at studentsstartups.com.