How Utah’s Hope Corps replaces lost student internships

University of Utah business students assisting with mobile coronavirus testing and supporting nonprofits

With internships and job opportunities getting delayed and canceled, the University of Utah’s business school found a way for students to serve their communities during the coronavirus crisis.

Students in Hope Corps, launched this spring at the David Eccles School of Business, have joined the state’s mobile coronavirus-testing program and are helping small businesses and nonprofits secure federal aid, among other projects, says Ruchi Watson, assistant dean and director of the project.

“We wondered if some folks were falling through the cracks because they were unaware of aid or not poised to take advantage of aid,” Watson said. “And, there’s a need among students to get these experiences and opportunities.”

Hope Corps, with support from donors, pays the students’ salaries and also offers course credits. But, Watson says, the project is not designed to help students find long-term jobs.

More from UB: How students complete courses that require hands-on training

In one of the bigger initiatives, Hope Corps students are working on the marketing and communications side of the university’s state contract to operate mobile coronavirus testing.

Students are promoting the program and spreading the message about the importance of testing, Watson says.

Other students are working with The United Way on a project to better understand the needs of nonprofits, particularly those that serve local communities of color.

For example, one group of students is helping create a business plan for a nonprofit called Women of the World, which guides displaced women in starting their own businesses.

About 25 students are working for Salt Lake County helping to speed the processing of small business loans that may eventually become grants.

Still other students are interning at the World Trade Center Utah, which supports local businesses that want to expand globally.

“We want businesses to think big about how they might grow during this time,” Watson says. “Not only do we want organizations to survive, we want them to thrive.”

The program has also spawned new Hope Corps chapters at several other institutions of higher education in the state, including Utah State University, where students are also processing small business loans.

UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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