In just two weeks, the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project’s +Impact Studio (DNEP+ISLB) summer internship will kickoff, bringing in 15 interns to consult for a select portfolio of Detroit small business owners. The internship will run from May 9th to July 14th, during which University of Michigan students partner with Detroit entrepreneurs to diagnose business problems and co-create solutions.
While it’s not unusual for universities to partner with local entrepreneurs, working on projects with students throughout the school year, the DNEP+ISLB program is unique in that it enables Detroit entrepreneurs to receive year-long support, beyond the constraints of the normal academic calendar. Speaking on his experience working with U-M students in the DNEP+ISLB program, former client Kwaku Osei says, “It’s like working with your own SWAT team.”
The DNEP+ISLB program emphasizes interdisciplinary teamwork. Interns come from a wide variety of schools, including the Ford School of Public Policy, the School of Engineering, the STAMPS School of Art and Design, and the Ross School of Business. “The interdisciplinary nature of our program is by far one of its biggest strengths,” Christie Baer, DNEP Assistant director says, “You have business students working with art students on marketing plans and logo designs, you have public policy students talking with engineering students on the impact a business can have on a community…it’s wonderful to see what they’re able to come up with together.”
This year, students will work on projects in four specialty areas: 1) brand identity 2) customer retention 3) Point of sale optimization and technology and 4) packaging and procurement. Along the way, University of Michigan faculty Chris Mueller from the Ross School of Business and Jill Greene from the STAMPS School of Design will supervise the intern teams. With an emphasis on implementing business solutions, in the past, intern teams have done everything from redesigning websites to picking the right POS system to creating packaging for a new line of products.
Speaking on his experience working with DNEP+ISLB interns, Kwaku Osei, owner of Farmacy Food says,"Working with the U-M DNEP is almost like having a SWAT Team of talented individuals with diverse skill sets coming together to help you address your biggest challenges and develop new strategies."
Former intern, Selena Grover (Ross ‘22) reflects back on her experience interning with DNEP: “Working with the +Impact Studio has been especially rewarding because I have been able to see a project grow from a seed of an idea to a flushed out final deliverable that really has the power to affect so many people positively. We were able to dig out what was top of mind for business owners to truly best address their needs."
As May approaches, DNEP looks forward to another productive summer and all the projects the interns and entrepreneurs will create together.