For the past two years, the Baker Institute and the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter have teamed up to place Lehigh students at startup internships across the globe. What started with one country - India in 2018 - grew to include the United Kingdom in 2019 and the plan for the Global Entrepreneurial Fellowships in 2020 added Germany as a host location. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything, except the intent to provide students with an experience that would equip them with a global entrepreneurial mindset.
With this determination, Baker and Lehigh@NasdaqCenter moved forward by planning virtual global internships with early to mid-stage startups for 13 students and remained committed to offering a meaningful, real-world, entrepreneurial learning experience. “We believe this experience will help prepare students for the future of work, and equip them with entrepreneurial mindsets and skills that will transcend careers. In times like this, it’s important to apply entrepreneurial thinking and create opportunities out of challenges.” says Lehigh@NasdaqCenter managing director, Samantha Dewalt.
Working with global partner, Ingenious Faces, students were matched with startups based on their preferences for location, industry, and project area. The relationship with Ingenious Faces began in 2018, during the first year of the Global Entrepreneurial Fellowship program. Dewalt and the student interns visited Ashoka University Centre for Entrepreneurship in India and were introduced to Apoorv Bamba, Ingenious Faces’ co-founder. Since then, discussions for collaboration continued and this transition to virtual was the catalyst to bring the partnership to life, allowing Baker and Lehigh@NasdaqCenter to tap into Ingenious Faces’ global network of startups through virtual internships.
The host companies for summer 2020 are based in South Africa, India, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. In order to support learning in the virtual setting, students will have access to a suite of online resources focused on entrepreneurial mindset development, including live webinars and workshops, as well as on-demand content specifically designed for application in their startup internship. Interns will also be assigned a coach in the host country to facilitate learning through one-on-one conversations to address cultural issues and specific questions related to their projects.
In addition to 10 Lehigh students, TU Dortmund University in Germany has 3 students participating. Says Baker Institute Executive Director Lisa Getzlier “TU Dortmund and Lehigh University have enjoyed a longstanding, fruitful relationship. Having TU Dortmund students join us as Global Entrepreneurial Fellows is a giant step in the growth of our partnership. Global entrepreneurial mindset development is at the forefront of Lehigh's new collaborations with TU Dortmund both through the research and assessment work being undertaken by Lehigh@Nasdaq Center and opportunities for our students to learn together through GEF.”
The Global Entrepreneurial Fellowship kicks off in early June with an on-boarding week and concludes at the end of July. The onboarding would have been hosted at the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter in San Francisco, California, but as with the rest of the program, will be accomplished by coming together virtually. Global Entrepreneurial Fellow Kaja Skerlj ‘21 says “Even though I wasn’t expecting to move my internship virtually and was eager to work in India, I’m excited to face the new challenges and learn how to develop meaningful relationships virtually.”