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USF Student Entrepreneurs Gain Real-World Experience By Helping NonProfit

The student chapter of Enactus at the University of South Florida recently partnered with a Tampa-based nonprofit to advance their motto: "Entrepreneurs in Action for the Greater Good."

Enactus is a global organization of student, academic and business leaders with 1,600 student chapters at universities across the world. The group’s goal is to use entrepreneurial skills to create sustainable communities by helping those in need develop their skills.

The student chapter at the University of South Florida (USF) is meeting this goal by identifying problems in the Tampa Bay community and working toward solving them in a way that empowers people. Knowing that homelessness is a major issue locally, the students selected New Beginnings of Tampa as their most recent project.

New Beginnings is a nonprofit organization in Tampa that provides transitional housing, counseling and job training services to rehabilitate the homeless.  

The team of 10 students targeted four areas where they could make the most impact based on their skills sets. First, they organized a charity golf tournament to help engage former clients and others who want to help the organization in a meaningful way. The event not only brought in $6,000 but will also serve as a template for the organization to continue on a yearly basis.

Second, they partnered with Hillsborough County Public Utilities to install low-flow shower heads and sink aerators, saving $12,000 in the first year alone.  

Next, they updated the organization’s website and social media plan and trained their employees so they could continue these initiatives.

Finally, they outfitted New Beginnings’ clients with professional suits to wear for job interviews using surplus suits from Enactus’ Suit-a-Bull program, which rents suits to USF students for career fairs and job interviews.

The student team not only helped the community, but gained valuable skills from the experience as well, particularly in the areas of motivation, problem solving and teamwork.

"We worked as a unit to get it done," says Sarah Schmidt, Management Information Systems major at USF and project leader. "I think everyone has come out of this project a lot more professional and realistic when it comes to expectations in the business world."

The team plans to enter the project in a national Enactus competition in April.

"It’s been a really awesome experience," says Schmidt. "You get out of it what you put into it."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Sarah Schmidt, Enactus

Read more articles by Megan Hendricks.

Megan Hendricks is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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