9 | BEC ANNUAL REPORT 2018 Small businesses are major contributors to the strength of the economy in southeast Michigan. The Business Engagement Center, as a member of the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN), offers a wide range of resources to local companies including the Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP), Small Company Internship Award Programs (SCIA), referrals to the Office of Tech Transfer (OTT) and more. In summer of 2018, seven students from across the university worked at paid internships with growing small businesses in Michigan. Thanks to a partnership funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and MCRN’s Small Company Internship Award (SCIA), a salary match was provided to the companies to hire students for an internship or co-op position. Students were placed with growing small companies that paid an average of $15 per hour, and the majority were offered long-term positions within the company. This is mutually beneficial for both the company looking to fill critical talent shortages and the student who gains more in-depth and cross-functional learning opportunities only offered by a small company. THE VGC GROUP The VGC Group accepted three interns and offered two positions within the company. The students that have worked with The VGC Group were interns on paper, but they became real team members upon starting their role. They were trained just as any new hire would be and adapted The VGC Group culture at the onset of their internship. They were trained to produce real work which produced real results. “We are beyond pleased with the contributions of our UM-Dearborn interns,” Wendy Ekua DaCruz, digital CEO and global market strategist, VGC. “Experiential knowledge was the key that opened doors for me as a college student navigating through life. Similarly, The VGC Group is a key for its student interns to experience the necessary knowledge that they need to discover their life’s purpose.” Satvika Nanduri, intern: How was your internship experience? I have been working on internships starting from January 2018. Out of all my experiences, this has certainly been one of the most challenging and rewarding internships I have worked on. Challenging, because your experiences and technical knowledge don’t simply pertain to a particular area of interest. With an internship, you get hands-on experience with respect to myriad avenues. As a sole business intelligence analyst, I never felt over-burdened or taxed to fulfill my job. In fact, I enjoyed it in every sense and attribute that to the wonderful team at VGC. Consistent encouragement and additional responsibilities gave me a sense of exploring myself through this wonderful journey. In conclusion, I strongly recommend every student to strive to work on an internship, pertaining to their field of interest. What was the most exciting and rewarding aspect of the internship? One of the most exciting and challenging aspects was to derive insights from clients pertaining to industries I had minimal experience with. Understanding the client and providing consumer insights were two different ends of the spectrum. Balancing and channeling them to transform business needs into statistical sense and vice- versa was one of the most challenging tasks for me. As a business intelligence analyst, I not only have to provide consumer insights but also have to convince the team of my findings. How has this experience prepared you for the real world? This experience has given me a sense of confidence to handle data and understand it. I feel fortunate to have gotten a chance to explore some of the many things I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Most importantly, it gave me an understanding and an excellent opportunity to build a rapport with the leadership and make the most of it. Networking was something I never really banked on. Now I can certainly say that it works. SMALL BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT Wendy Ekua DaCruz, digital CEO and global market strategist, VGC, (left) and Satvika Nanduri, SCIA intern and College of Business student, who continued her work as a data scientist and business intelligence analyst through fall 2018