When Amanda Porter saw her peers sharing internship concerns about housing, she came up with an idea that would change the way students searched for internships.
Porter, a senior chemical engineering student, spent her summer interning close to home. At the same time, a close friend lived with Porter’s family to be able to afford an internship that was far from home and did not provide housing. Some, for lack of a place to live, could not intern at all.
“I was noticing that many students had to turn down internships because they did not offer compensation for housing or living expenses,” Porter said. “Students would have to pay rent in Pullman or Moscow as well as pay for a place close to their internship.”
As a part of the College of Engineering and Architecture’s Harold Frank Entrepreneurship Institute, engineering and business students collaborate to develop a business concept as a capstone project during their senior year. Porter used this as her opportunity to pitch the idea she developed over the summer.
Four other students shared her vision and came together to develop the sustainable non-profit Live Easy: entrepreneurship major Jasmyn Bolar, entrepreneurship major Mackenzie Chapman and bioengineering major Lindsey Nichols.
Live Easy is a database that would connect WSU students with alumni who are willing to provide housing while the students are interning.
This would relieve the financial burden and open up opportunities for students to take internships they may not be able to if they had to pay for housing, Porter said.
“We just really want to help students,” Porter said. “Having this sustainable entity at the university would be an awesome resource.”
Director of the WSU Innovation Assessment Center Kelsey Knutson has been collaborating with the students and providing support over the course of their project.
Knutson, a WSU alumna, believes this unique idea would help bring students and alumni together in an important way.
“Connecting existing Cougs with alumni and families is a neat thing and there should be more of it,” said Knutson.
The students have only located one other similar program, at Oberlin College, across the country.
Porter says all of her extra time outside of class goes into the project.
“When I come home from class I send out emails and make phone calls during my free time,” said Porter.
Though three of the four students will be graduating in May, Bolar is a junior and will take the project on for her senior capstone project to continue its development.
The students are working on developing a database, collective alumni support, assessing student opinion and developing a customer base. The next steps include developing a website and general business plan.
“We see this as more of a common problem than people realize,” Chapman said. “This is more than a project to us, it is something we really want to change.”
Nichols said they are looking for student and alumni input. She encourages students to visit their website to provide feedback. https://sites.google.com/site/socialentrepreneurialcougs/home