Three Oregon MBA students are gaining valuable career experience while working on a project that promises to make a significant impact on the economy of the South Willamette Valley region. As the Lundquist College’s first-ever RAIN Fellows, they play an essential role in laying foundations upon which the Regional Accelerator Innovation Network—commonly known by the acronym RAIN—will be built. The students’ work focuses on building the program’s innovation network—the “I” and the “N” of the RAIN acronym—by creating a central repository of resources that incoming RAIN startups will use.
“We want to map the available resources, markets, and opportunities so that when the next young company sprouts up, they don’t have to do all the work themselves,” said John Hull, executive director of the Business Innovation Institute and assistant dean for the college’s centers of excellence.
Each RAIN Fellow receives a tuition waiver for each term in which he or she is involved with the initiative. Starting next fall, two paid graduate teaching fellowships will also be available.
For Paul Butler, JD/MBA ’16, being a RAIN Fellow means having the chance to get in on the earliest stages of an effort that can bring positive and lasting changes to the region’s economy.
“Coming from Boston, Massachusetts, I’ve seen the impact that an accelerator like this can have. We now have a whole area of the city that’s called the Innovation District,” said Butler.
As a student in the program’s sports business track, Cynthia Sandall, MBA ’15, relishes the opportunity to work closely with MBA candidates from the finance and entrepreneurship tracks.
“Our group meetings are very fruitful because we bring different eyes to the same subject, and we make each other think about different things,” said Sandall. “It’s a great way to challenge our assumptions.”
Sandall appreciates the opportunity to make an impact on the community where she currently lives. She also believes the experience makes for great preparation for her next career move.
“I am confident that the work we’re doing makes me a better candidate for different marketing and branding jobs. This experience has already given me a lot of tools I know I'll use going forward,” said Sandall.