Skandalaris Center Internship Program - for students
The Skandalaris Center Internship Program offers several opportunities for students to participate in an entrepreneurial summer experience. The Center coordinates internships offered through startup companies and growth companies in St. Louis. In addition, we work closely with the Career Center at Washington University to help direct students to internships at Answers, Inc. (described further below), and at a number of entrepreneurial organizations in the San Francisco area. For information about our plans in San Francisco, please contact Ken Harrington in the Skandalaris Center.
In St. Louis, we have offered internships at local startups since 2008. We consider a venture – either commercial or social – to be in the “startup” phase if it has raised less than $1 million or employs fewer than 15. The support system for entrepreneurs in St. Louis has grown tremendously since the start of the program, and many of the companies initially supported through the program, as well as others beyond the “startup” phase are still looking for assistance from students seeking an entrepreneurial internship. We consider these companies, who have raised more than $1 million or employ more than 15, so be “growth” companies. Beginning in 2013, we will coordinate internships at both startup and growth companies.
The student experience in a startup environment may be very different from a company that is experiencing growth, and students may select one program or the other, depending on the experience the student is seeking.
For both programs, the student receives a stipend of $5,000. The stipend is paid through Washington University payroll and interns will receive $500 on May 30, $2,000 on June 30, $2,000 on July 31, and $500 on August 29. Also for both programs, students may elect to live on the Washington University campus. The Skandalaris Center holds a certain number of rooms, and the student is required to submit a reservation request through an online form to be available by February 15. Housing charges are billed directly to the student account.
Differences in the programs include the internship length, student eligibility, and benefits to the student. For more information on the IdeaBounce® see section below regarding "matching."
|Startup || Growth |
|Length ||10 weeks, from June 2 to August 8 ||10 weeks or more, negotiated by student |
|Eligibility ||Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors ||Rising juniors and seniors; graduate and professional students; December 2013 and May 2014 graduates |
|Benefits ||Access to wide-ranging responsibilities in small entrepreneurial environment with direct access to the founder ||Focused internship in student's area of expertise on an entrepreneurial team |
|IdeaBounce® || February 6, 4PM || February 7, 4PM |
Skandalaris Summer Fridays
Another difference in the student experience between the two programs is the Friday programming that the Skandalaris Center coordinates for the students working at startup commercial and social ventures. The purpose of the Friday programming is to introduce students to some of our interesting historical, though sometimes economically challenging, neighborhoods, as well as the larger St. Louis community and the thriving support system for entrepreneurs.
On Friday mornings, students meet for breakfast with a Skandalaris Center staff member in an interesting local restaurant or coffee shop. After breakfast, the students visit an entrepreneurial organization on their own, on site visits coordinated by the Skandalaris Center. Students return to campus for lunch with an entrepreneur then host panel discussions in the afternoon. The panels are on topics related to starting, building, and sustaining new enterprises. Often founders and others at the interns’ host organizations serve as panelists, and students moderate the discussion and take questions from the audience. The panel discussions are free and open to the public. At the end of the discussion, everyone in the room has an opportunity to say a bit about their venture and where they need help. We then close with a reception so the students and community members in the audience can connect with and help each other.
While students at growth companies are welcome at the panel discussion and reception, they are not a requirement as they are for students working at startups.
- Missouri’s entrepreneurial activity nearly tripled in three years, moving from 35th to 6th nationally in the 2011 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity.
- Funding and mentoring for new ventures has increased substantially in a short time with the addition of Capital Innovators, T-REx, Arch Grants, and the St. Louis Regional Business Plan Competition.
- In its first five years, the startup program subsidized 119 interns, representing each of Washington University's undergraduate schools and colleges.
- Twenty-one ventures have hired interns in multiple years and four students have participated in multiple years.
Applications, eligibility, and matching
Both students and sponsoring organizations complete an application to be approved for the program. The student application includes short questions about student skills and interests, as well as four short-answer questions. Students complete their application by sending their resume to SCstudent@wustl.edu. The Skandalaris Center will contact students as their applications are approved, and invite them to attend two Internship IdeaBounce® events on February 6 (for startups) and February 7 (for growth ventures). Host applications may be viewed online, and this link is updated as applications are received.
At the events, approved host organizations give a brief description of their internship opportunity, and students briefly introduce themselves. Then the Skandalaris Center hosts a reception so students and their potential summer employers can connect and learn more about each other and the opportunities each provides to the other. Most “matches” don’t occur at the IdeaBounce®, which is typically followed by a more in-depth and traditional interview. The Center also provides approved organizations a book including all approved student resumes, and provides to students a book listing the internship opportunities at approved organizations.
Students may also recruit an organization they find through their own network and resources, though the organization still needs to be approved for funding through the Skandalaris Center. Information about the organization process is here.
When the student and host have mutually agreed to work together for the summer, they each must separately email their respective contacts in the Skandalaris Center so we can allocate the funds. Students send an email to SCstudent@wustl.edu and hosts send an email to Aimee Dunne Zander. When both emails have been received, the Center allocates the funding for the internship.
Funds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and the Center has funding for 25 startup internships. The Skandalaris Center does not subsidize internships at growth companies. Stipends are still paid through Washington University payroll, but the Center bills the company for the cost of the internship plus an administrative fee.
Read about the experiences of interns Mike Burnstein and Seth Einbinder on our Skandalaris Stories page, or read profiles of four summer 2012 interns. Additional comments from past participants include:
- I gained greater insight about how valuable it is to be collaborative and flexible. I also learned more about economic development in terms of small business.
- Even for a non-profit the business still needs to find a way to break even. This often includes thinking of creative ways to generate revenue or funding. Entrepreneurship covers such a wide spectrum of skills; so many details go into starting a business, many of which I hadn't thought about before.
- My internship taught me the importance of being flexible and willing to adapt to an ever-changing set of circumstances. The company often had a set of goals it wanted to accomplish. However, how we accomplished those goals was often much different than we had originally planned.
- Being involved with a start-up allowed me to understand many of the details and strategy that are involved with getting this type of venture "off the ground." In addition, it exposed me to some very high-energy, bright people. Finally, working with the company allowed me to be exposed to a new industry.
- I learned that integrity and the ability to work with people are more important than anything else in business — you can learn everything else you need to know along the way. Flexibility, patience, determination and optimism are extremely valuable qualities for anyone interested in an entrepreneurial venture. At the end of the day, it means a lot to know that my work can have tangible, meaningful, positive impact on the world around me.
- My internship experience altered my view of what it takes to survive as an entrepreneur. It also helped me focus my career search and helped me understand what I want to do after school. It was a truly valuable experience.
In summer 2012, Answers Inc was the first company to participate in a “growth company” program. Answers was founded by alumni entrepreneurs David Karandish and fellow engineer and business partner Chris Sims, both from the class of 2005. With headquarters in the Delmar Loop, Answers is one of the top destinations for Q&A content on the web. In 2012 they hired twelve Washington University interns from Arts & Sciences and Engineering who were responsible for building content, designing some of the more than 150 vertical sites owned by Answers, and addressing business issues. The students had a glimpse into the strategic operations of one of the hottest Internet companies in the world. In summer 2013 they hope to hire up to thirty interns. Due to the growth of Answers, these internships are now handled through Washington University’s Career Center, though the Skandalaris Center remains connected to the company and its founders. Read more about Answers, David and Chris, or the interns’ experience here.
If you have questions, please contact Rosemary Gliedt in the Skandalaris Center at 314.935.9134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.