Students Assisting Business - 2021

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When COVID 19 descended upon the Pacific Northwest, the health of the people was of tremendous concern to all. Then the heavy toll on the economy took place. Businesses were shuttered or closed permanently. People lost jobs - some forever.

Many Milgard School of Business students found that internships evaporated. Internships are a source of applied learning and temporary income, but COVID 19 not only affected students' classrooms, but also their futures.

Milgard instructor and executive director of the Sports Enterprise Management program Stan Emert visited Dean Merchant and described his idea. "I proposed to offer help to our local community by putting our business students on projects that the businesses need. But we should be the one to pay the students," said Emert to the dean. "The dean interrupted after about 5 seconds, and said yes! He would find the money because the students needed the income and the experience. Plus, the local businesses need help."

Executive Director of the Sports Enterprise Management program and Students Assisting Business faculty, Stan Emert

Dean Altaf Merchant, Milgard School of Business

With backing and leadership from Dean Merchant, Students Assisting Business was formed. Emert and VIBE director, Thomas Kuljam, were charged with creating projects with local businesses, advertising the jobs to MSB students and overseeing the program.

There have been 18 Milgard students who have participated in the SAB program. Businesses participating so far include Sky Bear Media, Tacoma/South Sound Travel & Tourism, TheyNeedXYZ.com, Evergreen Business Capital, Rainier Flight Services. An SAB project with Pierce County Economic Development just finished evaluating federal CARES Act applications.

Rainier Flight Services provided quite a challenge for Milgard seniors Ranie Betzina and Meagan Pham. The Flight School is headquartered at the Renton Airport and is considering expanding with a location in Pierce County. Betzina and Pham devised and conducted a survey that will help the company determined whether to open the new school location.

Pierce County Economic Development Department, led by Betty Capestany, provided a unique challenge for the SAB program. The department had millions of dollars to distribute to businesses over a short period of time. In order to receive the funds, the businesses had to apply and provide detailed information about their operations. Each of the applications needed to receive individual attention that required more trained people than the Department had. Milgard students – Alisa Slobodyanyuk, Ben Taylor, Shaun Jones, Evan Doyle and Chris Serrano – took on the difficult task. Their work helped small businesses throughout Pierce County receive funding that may have meant the difference in opening or closing and keeping people employed.  

The economic damage from COVID-19 will continue to plague businesses. Kuljam and Emert expect to announce new positions to be available throughout the winter. Students are encouraged to visit the Students Assisting Business website for more information.

The SAB program provides part-time temporary jobs for Milgard students. These jobs are project-based, not internships. Traditional internships at MSB are provided through the Milgard Success Center. Students are encouraged to connect with the Success Center if they are seeking internships.

Written by: 
Shane Benoit / February 19, 2021
Photos by: 
UW Tacoma staff, Shane Benoit
Media contact: 

Shane Benoit / Stan Emert