The University of Scranton Women’s Entrepreneurship Center is housed in the Kania School of Management and is a program of the Small Business Development Center.
Student interns and center staff offer business startup information, guidance, and encouragement to lower-income women who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Student interns assist with program development and presentation and individual business consulting, providing participants with information that helps them develop business plans.
“The programs and services offered by the University of Scranton Women’s Entrepreneurship Center (WEC) would not be possible without our student interns,” said Lisa Hall Zielinski, director of the University of Scranton SBDC. “They devote their time to offering individual assistance above and beyond the help provided by our SBDC business consultants.”
Since it was established in 2010, 66 university students have completed internships at the center, with many returning for multiple semesters. Nine students have interned this semester.
A major focus of the interns this semester has been working on StartUP, a six-week series that walks participants through the process of starting a business and StartUP Virtual, a self-learning online series that guides participants through the process of starting a business. In addition to business startup basics, women learn legal and insurance considerations, marketing and social media essentials, business plan development, accounting and budget skills, financing options and requirements, goal setting and other skills.
“Not only do the students use what they learn in their classes to help the women, they also leave with knowledge and skills to start their own businesses someday if they decide to go that route,” said Donna Simpson, SBDC consultant manager.
In addition, interns write blog posts and articles and help to create and deliver social media content. The participants benefit by learning how to access resources, develop business plans and build the confidence to work toward their dreams of owning a business.
“The women at WEC have been a great resource, providing objective and accurate information,” Kate Lewis, owner of College Search Guide LLC and a StartUP graduate.
While most interns are business students, the program is open to students across the university. This semester, the group includes two occupational therapy majors and a biology major.
“I am hoping to eventually open my own occupational therapy practice, so learning how to manage my finances and about how sole proprietorships function will help me significantly in that process,” said intern Gabrielle Heart Timoteo. “Additionally, working with clients individually has helped me to develop my social and interpersonal skills.”
More than 400 local women have completed the StartUP series and 52 have started or purchased their own small businesses. The StartUp Virtual Summer Series began on June 1. The six-week, self-paced program gives women the guidance they need to develop successful small businesses with the flexibility of completing it on their own schedule.