In just two weeks, the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project’s summer internship program, +Impact Studio for Local Business (DNEP+ISLB), will kickoff, training 15 interns to consult for a select portfolio of Detroit small business owners. During the 10 week program, students from the Ford School of Public Policy, Ross School of Business, and Stamps School of Art & Design will pick up on work done by U-M students throughout the semester to implement recommendations that business owners agree with, but lack the capacity to implement.
2023 interns will assist business owners with brand identity implementation work across websites, packaging, social media, retail locations, pop-up booths, and apparel; point of sale system optimization and conversion; and marketing strategy implementation to help businesses generate repeat sales from existing customers.
"DNEP's summer internship program is designed to provide students with the highest and best use of their skills while providing capacity for Detroit business owners in the least extractive way possible," says Christie Baer, program director. "Most of our clients do not have an extra staff person who can onboard, train, and supervise an intern full-time. We handle that part. This allows students and business owners to focus on working together to make big changes to improve the business."
The DNEP+ISLB program emphasizes interdisciplinary teamwork. "The interdisciplinary nature of the program is by far one of its biggest strengths,” Baer says, “When we're looking at packaging, for instance, our teams look at it holistically: Where is it sourced from? How much does it cost to make and ship? What information is required to be on it? And, what should it look like to be on-brand?"
While the summer internship program was initially conceived of by Ross faculty (and Ross/Ford alumnus) Chris Mueller as a COVID response, the internship model has proven to be a successful intervention for mitigating the "parachute problem" that often occurs when universities partner with communities: faculty and students drop in with resources and ideas, then disappear when the funding or semester ends. +ISLB allows year-round support for DNEP clients by operating like a pro bono interdisciplinary professional services firm, under multidisciplinary faculty and staff leadership. All faculty-staff supervisors are former professional service providers in business, design, and law, and bring their experiences to the students' professional development curriculum. For clients, the holistic support is invaluable. Former client Kwaku Osei from Farmacy Food raved:
"What has been created is incredible. It really blew past my expectations when I look at the full assembly of work that's been created: the narrative video, the packaging design, etc. Our website now looks better than the majority of our much richer competitors. This type of thing that companies hire an agency to do and spend $50,000 and yet still doesn't get the level of quality that was delivered by you all. It just goes to show the power of a team of really smart individuals coming together to do something great."
NOTE: DNEP is still accepting clients for this summer who need point of sale optimization or conversion work. If your scheduling software does not integrate with your payment software, or you are looking to convert to a point of sale system that offers e-inventory features, or the payments do not work on your e-commerce site, or you just wonder if you're overpaying for your payment processing, please email Christie Baer (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss.