Last semester, senior year. Time to wrap up any loose ends and get your affairs in order before you are kicked out into the world. This is what most seniors face, that is, unless you’re a student at the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business.
Last semester seniors are required to participate in a mandatory internship program called “Business Practicum.” The program begins the first semester of senior year, where students are tasked with finding an internship with a local company or non-profit organization. This internship can take many forms, from a paid internship, extensive volunteer hours or even time invested in yourself via the opportunity to work on starting your own company.
Originally, I interviewed and was accepted to an internship with the marketing department of a local tech company. I say originally because while that would have been a wonderful experience, I was approached by Professor Benjamin to work with him in his private business ventures. Having taken Benjamin’s Business Planning Research course last semester, I was intrigued to pursue this avenue. Like Benjamin, I possess the desire for an entrepreneurial experience with my business dealings. I’ve often talked about getting my real estate license, not necessarily to pursue a career in real estate sales but just as a good thing to have. It just so happened that one of Benjamin’s areas of expertise is in real estate investment, and I saw him as a potential mentor I should learn as much as possible from.
So I signed on with Benjamin. I had almost no idea what I was getting myself into, but man, has it been a wild ride! We’ve delved into real estate, web-based business development, medical devices and all other manners of potential businesses. In addition to flipping real estate, Benjamin has built a reputation as an angel investor along with a group of other local businessmen. We’ve learned how to analyze a potential product from market research to production feasibility. One of the realizations I’ve come to is that for every one feasible venture, 10 times that many will cross your desk. Real estate, for example, has me pulling my hair out. I’ll analyze maybe 60 properties to find maybe one possibility, and upon further inspection, something ends up killing the deal (often times, it’s timing where I was dragging my feet).
Right now, we’re working on redeveloping an online-based business called Rad Badges. Rad Badges sells these radiation badges that medical professionals are required to wear by law whenever they’re around x-ray machines. These badges are shipped off every quarter to be measured for radiation exposure. Depending on the lab results, a technician may need to stop giving x-rays to prevent any adverse health effects. We’ve redesigned the website and are now working on building on other products we sell on the website as well as expanding our customer base.
The other project we’re working on at the moment is a motel that has fallen into disrepair here in Melbourne. Benjamin saw the potential for a lucrative opportunity in buying the property, rehabilitating it and affiliating it with a national chain before selling it off to another group of investors. This has been quite an eye opener in that we’re essentially learning how to open a hotel. Associated costs, affiliation requirements and city ordinance must all mesh in order to make this deal possible, and making sure all the ducks have the potential to line up is requiring quite a bit of research, cold calling and analysis.
Overall, this business practicum has taught me an incredible amount, allowing me to build off of the knowledge gained in classes with real world experience. Internships are a great way to pursue something you think you might be interested in without making extensive commitments.
Featured image credit: College of Business, Florida Tech