LA Community College Students Benefit from Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center Internship Program
Thanks to the leadership of the Business & Entrepreneurship Sector Statewide Director Chuck Eason and Los Angeles Regional Director Judy Fox, students from two Los Angeles-area community colleges gained valuable experience working directly with startup founders as part of a program coordinated by the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center.
The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center is a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurship through events, education, and mentorship. The B&E sector received a Chancellor’s Office Industry Sector Project in Common grant to facilitate the program and held a train-the-trainer session for faculty on February 7.
Students were chosen from an application process overseen by faculty. Five students from Pasadena City College and two from Glendale College were part of the program’s initial cohort in the spring. More than a dozen startups throughout California participated in the program.
Rafael Cardona, a business instructor at Glendale College, said the experience and Nasdaq’s brand recognition made the program a success.
“Fortune 500 companies typically work with four-year student interns from well-known universities. I think it’s progressive and wonderful that the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center decided to work with our community college students,” Cardona said. “It’s validating for the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center to see the abundant talent that exists in our students. And in turn, the magnitude of this internship opportunity positively impacts the professional aspirations and lives of our hardworking students.”
Instructors served as coaches throughout the program, putting in an estimated 25-30 hours over the course of the program. Mark Keene, a business instructor and director of the hospitality program at Pasadena City College, said the extra investment was absolutely worth it for the experiences his students gained.
“Each student was working directly with a founder or a startup,” Keene said. “They worked on projects related to marketing and research, but also learned how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.”
Glendale College students Jennifer Mendoza-Coronado and Nyah Gaitan interned at Winnie, an app that connects parents with child care providers.
Mendoza-Coronado, who graduated from Glendale College this spring, worked on compiling information on attractions and services for families to display on the Winnie app and the company’s blog — things like museums, zoos, and family-friendly events.
She said the program gave her valuable experience working in startup culture and would recommend the experience to other students in a heartbeat.
“It can seem scary to work for a startup company because they’re still in the trial and error phase, but it’s the best thing you can do if you want to major in business,” Mendoza-Coronado said. “You can see how much work it takes and how focused and driven and organized you have to be. I 100 percent recommend this program and am grateful to Professor Cardona for introducing me to it.”
Winnie was so impressed with the Glendale students, both were asked to stay on as interns after the program had ended.
Pasadena City College students interned at Honeyfi, a finance app for couples; Fanalyze, a sports data app; String, an app which adds superpowers to your phone number; and Stache, modern solution to self-storage.
Honeyfi’s team said the work of intern Richard Gallegos directly influenced its marketing strategies and materials.
“He completed some competitive research/analysis on App Store promotional videos that helped us make the decision to invest in a video,” the founders wrote in an evaluation. “He also was a team player and teamed up with our other intern to create social media content.”
Two Pasadena City College students were offered jobs at the end of their internship experience.
Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center Program Coordinator, Isis Torres grew up in Los Angeles and was happy to support students in her hometown through the internship program.
“The students demonstrated the ability to develop quickly, think on their toes, and utilize resources to be productive in the tasks that they were assigned,” Torres said. “We applaud them for their commitment, willingness to roll up their sleeves, and flexibility. In partnership with Professor Cardona and Dr. Keene, we noticed their confidence build and their entrepreneurial skillsets and mindsets evolve.”
Torres said bringing diverse voices into the startup ecosystem benefits everyone.
“We’re dedicated to understanding the barriers to entrepreneurship and developing promising solutions,” she said. “We believe having students participating in a wide array of entrepreneurial programs provides a unique talent pool for talent hungry startups.”
Keene and Cardona said they would absolutely do the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center program again if the opportunity presents itself. Two students from each of the colleges were hired by the companies they interned for, and Keen and Cardona would like to keep those relationships going moving forward.
“Our small business center is ready to jump on this because it’s such a good experience for our students,” Keene said.
“Connecting students with opportunities such as this shows them the correlation between classroom learning and the real world, while also giving employers the opportunity to see the future-ready workforce we are preparing in Los Angeles,” states Judy Fox. “We encourage more companies to look to their local community colleges to help fill their talent gaps.”
For more information about the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, visit thecenter.nasdaq.org. For more information about the Business & Entrepreneurship Sector collaboration, visit the B&E community of practice website.