Even small businesses know that being on the web no longer counts as a luxury. These days, it’s a necessity. However, finding a resource to create that site and facing the possible design costs can pose obstacles.
Not any more, thanks to a partnership between the College of Business Administration and Elevate Miami, a program that the City of Miami, under the leadership of Mayor Manny Díaz, facilitates and which “provides tools and skills to small business, individuals, and family members to improve their digital literacy skills,” according to Lauren Cortinas, the organization’s program coordinator.
[flv:http://business.fiu.edu/newsletters/BusinessNetworks/2008/08/videos/elevate.flv 500 334]
“Anything involving the community with lots of interaction with students gets me excited,” said Faisal Kaleem, lecturer, Department of Decision Sciences and Information Systems, who teaches many courses in modern technology. He devised the idea of offering a three-credit internship course to motivate business students to establish web sites for small business owners.
“This adds value to our students and to Miami’s small business community,” he said.
Acting as consultants, students teach . . . and learn.
The students—mostly undergraduates with varying technology experience—work in teams of two, each assigned between six and ten companies to contact on their own. They schedule two workshops during which they create the site and provide insights into how their clients could grow their businesses. Twenty strong candidates applied for the initial opportunity, with thirteen selected as technology coaches.
|Faisal Kaleem and Lauren Cortinas
“Participating was a no-brainer for me,” said José Hernandez, an MIS major. “I will get a certificate from Microsoft and from the City of Miami, both of which will look good on my résumé. I usually sit in front of a computer rather than in front of a client, so this gave me a view of how clients think and a chance to network with potential clients for my own business.”
George Ramos and José Hernandez
Accounting major George Ramos, who also has a marketing background, appreciates the way “the internship supplemented my knowledge of accounting, enabled me to interact with others, and helped me learn the technology. Maybe when I create my own business, I’ll be able to put up my own web site.”
“It’s truly an amazing opportunity for these students who otherwise would be in a classroom setting, not interacting with business people one to one,” Cortinas said, and according to Kaleem, “We are looking at how to integrate such community-based projects into our course offerings every semester, involving faculty members and student organizations.”
For more information about Elevate Miami, visit www.elevatemiami.com.