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SEED Program Matches Students with Local Entrepreneurial Companies

The University of Iowa has teamed up with the new SEED (Small-Business Education and Entrepreneurial Development) program of the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce to expand student internship opportunities to area entrepreneurial companies in the fields of life sciences, advanced manufacturing or information solutions.

UI's Consider Iowa program is designed to inform students of emerging career opportunities in the state of Iowa. As part of the Consider Iowa program, a pilot internship program placed student interns at spin-off companies on the University's Oakdale Research Park. Now, the pilot is being expanded to other employers in the area.

"Entrepreneurs are a critical element in the driving engines for economic growth. However, the necessary resources for start-up and growth can be hidden and elusive to entrepreneurs beginning a business," says Jim Griffin, president of the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce. The objective of the SEED program is to bridge the knowledge gap between available resources and those who want to create a business or those existing local businesses that want to grow and expand.

The UI is one of several sponsors of the first SEED workshop to be held at 2 p.m., Oct. 14 at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Coralville.

"One ideal way to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit is to give our students the opportunity to contribute to, and be influenced by budding entrepreneurs in our area," says Usha Balakrishnan, director of the UI Office of Corporate Partnerships who serves on the Iowa Economic Development Board and the Iowa Biotechnology Association Board. "An internship experience in such a setting can be invaluable to develop an understanding of the skills required to thrive in these environments. We are delighted to partner with our Chamber and local companies to achieve our mutual goals in developing a creative and well-trained workforce for the future."

In collaboration with the UI Career Center, Balakrishnan conceptualized and launched the Consider Iowa program last year during her own professional development internship with Lola Lopes, associate provost for undergraduate education. The Consider Iowa program, with its first-year theme in biotechnology, was designed as a series of forums, one-credit experiential road trips to entrepreneurial companies, and a pilot internship program to foster more direct interactions between university students and corporate executives.

"We're seeking companies that are demonstrating a strong commitment to the state of Iowa, and would like to provide a learning opportunity for a talented Iowa student," said David Baumgartner, director of the UI Career Center.

The internships give UI students a chance to interact with professionals in those fields, while companies can discover their talents and skills they have developed while studying at the UI. The UI covers one-half of the funding for the intern's salary, with the balance provided by the employer.

The UI Career Center also is seeking students to participate in the Consider Iowa program. To be eligible, students must be undergraduates of at least sophomore status who are enrolled full-time at the UI, and who have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. Employers must have 500 employees or fewer, must be companies in the Johnson County area or the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids Technology Corridor.

For questions about the Consider IOWA program, please contact Jane Schildroth at the UI Career Center, 319-335-1023 or visit the UI's table display at the SEED event on Oct. 14.


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