Program Gives Students Real-World Experience
October 9, 2017
by Alison Leavitt, Deputy News Editor, FSView
This year the DeVoe L. Moore Center (DMC) within the college started the Immersive Management Program, allowing students to gain applied experience in executive roles at nonprofits started by FSU alumni.
DMC Director Sam Staley started his first nonprofit in 1999. Staley and his colleagues noticed the impact these nonprofits were having in the community and wanted to ensure that they continued to thrive.
“This is an attempt to create sustainable social change building on the passion and initiative of FSU students,” Staley said.
This not only helps the community and the nonprofits but also gives students an applied experience.
“We created a real world training ground by creating an environment for students to become real managers,” Staley said. “I don’t know of any organization like this anywhere else, so we do think we are breaking ground.”
Val Rodriguez, DMC’s Social Entrepreneurship Project Manager, was on the committee that founded the Immersive Management Program. She stressed how special this program is by highlighting the fact that when students graduate at 22 or 23 years old, they will not only be graduating with bachelor’s degrees, but also executive experience in a nonprofit.
“We have really crafted something that is very unique in itself,” Rodriguez said. “There’s no other university that’s able to offer this at the moment. It’s applied, it’s experiential and it’s for undergraduates.”
Students interested in the program must apply for the position at a specific organization and some will be chosen to go through the interview process. The accepted students are trained and will be given guidance from the organization’s board of directors and the DeVoe L. Moore Center staff. This is a year-long commitment, and students enrolled will be given course credit for the fall and spring, as well as a stipend during the summer.
This year the Immersive Management Program partnered with Unhoused Humanity. However, they will start advertising for the organizations being added to the program for next fall in spring of 2018. All of the organizations were started by Florida State students and chosen because of the high impact they have had on the community.
Unhoused Humanity was started by Ramon Aleman during his undergraduate years at Florida State and was later joined by Daren McCurdy. They have fundraised and housed over 137 individuals since they started in 2015. Aleman has since passed his leadership role to McCurdy, the new Chief Executive Officer.
Unhoused Humanity serves as the pilot program since it is the Immersive Management Program’s first year. Normally when accepted into the program, the students will start working immediately as their given title. There are four students under the titles of Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer and Donor Relations Officer at Unhoused Humanity.
Brittney Alfaro, a junior majoring in Economics, currently serves as the Finance Intern for Unhoused Humanity but will be starting as the Chief Financial Officer this spring. Alfaro keeps track of the organization’s current financial position by organizing and updating financial reports. She also works with a team of other students on how to grow the organization through member outreach and fundraising.
“I believe that the best way to learn is through experience, and the Immersive Management Program gives students the opportunity to do that,” she said.
Although Alfaro had never worked at a nonprofit before, the Immersive Management Program allows her to apply what she has learned in the classroom to the real world.
“This program has taught me a lot about nonprofit work and the skills necessary to manage one efficiently. I am motivated knowing that I am working for a fully operational nonprofit rather than studying the methods through a textbook.”