Joseph Salamon, News Editor
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has partnered with Ameren Electric to give students a unique summer internship opportunity for the second straight year. UMSL Accelerate, a university club focused on propelling students into positions of professional success, works in cooperation with Ameren and many energy start-up companies.
UMSL Accelerate’s partnership with Ameren started last year, as they picked ten students from an applicant pool of approximately 200 to work with seven promising energy start-up companies. Ameren chose the companies based on which had the most potential to succeed in the market, and provided each with a $100,000 grant.
The UMSL students then worked with their assigned company, applying their individual skill sets to run social media accounts, create websites, develop marketing strategies, and more. When it comes to specific academic disciplines, the Ameren Accelerator internship program is open to all students.
Founding executive director of UMSL Accelerate and 1983 UMSL graduate, Dan Lauer, said, “Innovation comes from everywhere. We want the nursing student that has a medical device. We want the College of Education student. Entrepreneurship comes from every discipline. This is very much intended to be interdisciplinary across campus. We want anyone who’s interested in entrepreneur-minded activities.”
The Ameren Accelerator Internship is designed to fit the needs of even the busiest of college students. The internship runs from June 11 to September 11, requires 20 hours of work per week which can mostly be done remotely, and offers a $2,500 stipend upon completion. There are limited barriers to entry,though. It is encouraged that applicants be strong writers and communicators, energetic and positive, committed self-starters, and open to learn.
Of the ten Ameren Accelerator interns from 2017, four were offered permanent positions with the start-up companies that they worked with over the summer. Their disciplines ranged from data analytics and sales to software development and engineering.
The success of last summer’s program has inspired Dan Lauer and the UMSL Accelerate team to continue the program. “We found of lot of traction with student engagement in this kind of program, so we’re doing it again,” Lauer said. “We hope to get a bunch of students who are eager to learn. We want students to have a lot of fun with it but also learn from it.”
While the Ameren partnership is proving to be a success, Lauer is confident that both the program and UMSL Accelerate will grow even further. Using last summer’s 200-person applicant pool as a benchmark, Lauer hopes to see that number increase to about 300 students this year. With UMSL Accelerate, he’s thinking on a grander scale. Lauer said, “We want to be a thought-leading, award-winning, nationally recognized program that we all can be proud of.”
The function of UMSL Accelerate isn’t simply to partner with companies to provide students with valuable professional experience. While that is part of it, the club has more to offer. Lauer described the club as “a holistic approach to entrepreneur student education.” Its approach consists of education, innovation, and collaboration—with the Ameren Accelerator internship program falling in the collaboration section.
Already offering an entrepreneurial certificate, UMSL Accelerate aims to offer a full degree program within the coming years. As one of the fastest growing and largest student clubs on campus, there is certainly a demand for an education based in entrepreneurship.
The deadline to apply for the Ameren Accelerator internship program is March 4, and Lauer insists that the applicant pool will be competitive and diverse, but he doesn’t want that to discourage any students considering the program. “Part of entrepreneurship is showing up. Raise your hand and try this. Give it your all,” Lauer said.
More information about the program can be found at the Ameren Accelerator website.