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Interns for Indiana is inspiring student entrepreneurship and fueling economic growth

Entrepreneurism fuels the business fires that keep our country growing, and globally it is viewed as an answer to the economic and social problems facing the world. The Kauffman Foundation estimates that more than 2,000 colleges and universities in the United States that offer a course in entrepreneurship, and there are approximately 5,000 courses on entrepreneurship, up from 250 in 1985. But there are still a lot of questions being asked about entrepreneurship education.

As we focus the lens we see this rapidly growing area of education is being done through integrated and experiential approaches. At Purdue University, Interns for Indiana is providing opportunities for students to have entrepreneurial learning beyond the classroom. By matching students with start-up companies, students are immersed in an entrepreneurial environment. “In addition to the classroom based learning, we offer a way to learn outside the classroom and gain real-world experience at a start-up company,” says Monica Shively, IfI sustainability coordinator.

Austin Saragih

Austin Saragih, majoring in industrial engineering while pursuing a minor in global engineering studies, and working to earn a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, gained valuable knowledge through his Interns for Indiana placement with EE in A Box.  He credits the startup company experience with providing him the tools for business and product development, and understanding of the aspects of being an entrepreneur. “The internship prepared me for being innovative and entrepreneurial in work, which will be helpful after graduation,” shares Saragih.

“I grew a lot from that work experience, from the guidance of my great mentor and EE in A Box CEO Brandon Stevens, and from the professional development sessions,” explains Saragih.

His first real-world, non-research experience with IfI helped him with a smooth transition toward his current internship as associate management engineer at Henry Ford Health System. “The best part of IfI, for me has been that it international-student friendly,” he explains.

“If circumstances permit, I would love to stay in Indiana and start a consulting company,” says Saragih. “Of course, I have to gather experience and expertise before implementing that plan.”

Brady Kalb

While working in his MBA assistantship at the Burton D. Morgan Center, serial entrepreneur, Brady Kalb  (AAE’04, MS’06, MBA’09), was exposed to local entrepreneurs and start-up companies. “I fell in love with the process of technology commercialization.” he recalls.

It was during his IfI experience with an early stage cancer therapeutic company that Kalb decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Using what he learned in his Purdue classes and internship, Kalb started his own company, NuVen Consulting, to provide business expertise to other entrepreneurs. “What I have discovered is many start-ups were founded by the scientist or the inventor of a technology,” he explains. “My goal is to help them with everything from financial planning, fund raising, negotiating license agreements with universities, business development, sales and marketing. The scientific founder’s focus should be on the science. I can help them by doing what I’m good at, which in turn frees them to do what they’re good at.”

Kalb, who is passionate about technology commercialization, still lives in Indiana and works with local start-ups. “I love the concept of taking an idea, turning it into a product and building a company out of it,” he states. “I want to continue doing that for interesting technologies coming out of university settings.” His undergraduate engineering background has been valuable for him to understand technologies and be able to evaluate their potential for commercialization. Also an adjunct teacher for two entrepreneurship classes at Krannert, he’s sharing his entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm with others. “The teaching aspect has been great because I can share my experiences with other eager young entrepreneurs,” states Kalb.

“We believe aspiring entrepreneurs can increase their chances of success with practical education and experiential learning,” explains Shively. “That’s what we hope students are taking away from their internship experience with IfI.”

Editor’s note: Brady Kalb, is also CEO of Skyepack, a digital tool that offers an alternative to both textbooks and e-readers, and allows anyone to create classroom teaching materials that students can view on computers and smartphones.