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ASU connects businesses with enthusiastic work force


December 01, 2008

More than 50 companies in the greater Phoenix community are realizing the benefits of a novel internship program offered by ASU’s Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ASU/SkySong.

The program, Sun Devil Entrepreneurship Network (SDEN), connects Arizona’s vibrant start-up community with the energy of entrepreneurially minded students and is available to students across all four of the university campuses – Tempe, West, Polytechnic and Downtown Phoenix.

The program is in its second year. It placed 58 students with local businesses in its inaugural year, currently counts 85 working students, and has its sights set on 150 placements by July of 2009.

“SDEN was developed from the recognition that entrepreneurs approach business differently,” says Richard Franklin, corporate liaison at ASU/SkySong, the Scottsdale Innovation Center.

“No two days are the same; the leaders of these businesses and companies wear different hats, work different hours, and have a passion for the value they add through their companies. We created SDEN to target these types of companies primarily and quickly supply them with like-minded, entrepreneurially biased talent. SDEN applicants have that same type of entrepreneurial mindset and they understand and appreciate the variety and divergence in the approach.”

The program is different from any one of the many internship opportunities offered through ASU’s 22 colleges. It is the university’s entrepreneurship-focused internship program and, while course credit can be arranged for an SDEN internship, is billed more as a real-world setting, experiential opportunity for students that has become a top priority for the Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

SDEN places interns and mentees with entrepreneurs and makes its possible for students to know which entrepreneurs are offering internships, project positions or serving as mentors to tomorrow’s leaders.

Franklin notes that businesses taking advantage of the young ASU talent are privy to fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

“This is an opportunity for local businesses to bring onto their individual teams some great talent and to connect their companies with the cutting-edge knowledge being generated by ASU’s four campuses.

“Students bring to the real-world workplace added service, given their interests in venture creation. Students from majors such as business, nursing, the arts, law and engineering – to name just a few – offer a range of knowledge, interest and skill sets that could be just the right fit for a business, large or growing.”

Entrepreneurial action is a key component in ASU’s vision of the New American University. Programs such as SDEN engage students, faculty, alumni and the community in advancing and promoting an entrepreneurial culture both within the university and throughout the Greater Phoenix community. Current efforts to breed a greater attention to entrepreneurship are supported by a recent $5-million grant from the Kauffman Foundation that was given to ASU to expand and establish programs like SDEN across the four campuses and its academic units.

“This is a fast-matching mechanism that links high-energy, entrepreneurial companies in the Valley with like-minded students,” says Franklin.

“Our goal is to give students the opportunity to work in a real-life entrepreneurial setting. The benefit to the employer is that they get some great help in their businesses and the benefit of new approaches and new ideas that have been grounded in an interdisciplinary, problem-focused approach.”

For more information on SDEN, contact Richard Franklin at 480-884-1812 or via email at SDENinfo@aus.edu.