RIC’s business school is not only educating college-level business students, they’re inspiring future ones, as well.
This summer, for six weeks, Rhode Island College’s School of Business hosted 11 high school interns interested in becoming business entrepreneurs.
The 11 were among 350 teenagers taking part in the PrepareRI Internship Program.
Designed to prepare high school juniors to enter the workforce, PrepareRI places youth in paid internships in companies across the state.
Participants began the program with a weeklong boot camp at RIC, where they enrolled in a for-credit college course that prepared them to report and reflect on their internship experience. Following boot camp, 11 of the 350 students remained at RIC, where they interned in the School of Business.
“PrepareRI helped prepare us for our future by giving us some real-world experiences.”
The interns came from both public and charter schools in Providence, Pawtucket and Cumberland, including Mt. Pleasant High School, Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts and Blackstone Valley Prep High School.
“The students were broken up into four groups and asked to create a company that designs welcome packages for colleges,” explains RIC Assistant Professor of Information Systems Joyce Perry, who coordinated the internship at RIC.
“Ultimately, our goal was to instill in the students critical thinking, time management, teamwork, the ability to communicate well with each other and creativity.”
Assistant Professor Joyce Perry
RIC professors who specialize in marketing, finance, accounting and human resources, as well as an outside consultant, mentored the students and helped them design their business. Each company created a logo, a tag line and a business plan. Then Perry gave them their first client – Rhode Island College.
Like any marketing company looking to do business with RIC, the interns met with Executive Director of the Office of College Communication and Marketing Jeanette St. Pierre.
“I explained to them how the marketing office works,” says St. Pierre, “and suggested that they include in their college welcome package a message to incoming students that can be posted on platforms that students use on a daily basis, specifically, TikTok and YouTube. They could include a QR code in their package that links to the TikTok and YouTube videos.”
Here’s one result by the CampusQuest Company.
Each company also filmed a promotional video for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) to be posted on their website and buses to encourage RIC students to ride RIPTA. Their welcome packages included information about how to ride RIPTA and the top places to go in Rhode Island by taking the bus.
Lastly, the companies designed a RIC label for packaged cookies sold in Donovan Dining Center.
Ultimately, each company’s goal was to encourage RIC to buy their package. When St. Pierre asked each company what unique benefits RIC offers students, intern NaKai Jackson, vice president of CampusQuest, replied:
“I think definitely the most unique benefit to going to RIC is the low tuition it offers for four years with two years free as long as you’re full time and maintain a certain GPA. No other four-year college in Rhode Island has those benefits.”
The other three companies also sited the welcoming environment and the diverse programs of study.
In looking back on their venture into the business world, Ashley Hernandez said, “I came into this internship not knowing what career path I’d like to go into. This internship has made me want to explore business in college.”
Matorma Howard added, “Being in this program taught me how to be more professional and how to connect with my peers in a professional workspace. I also earned college credits and got to spend my summer doing something beneficial for my future.”
In sum, Colione Ocasio said, “It helped prepare us for our future by giving us some real-world experiences.”
Eleven teens spent the summer in an internship at RIC's School of Business. First they created their own company, then they turned around and pitched RIC their first product.