James Rodríguez is an MBA student at Kutztown University who splits his time between classes and working as a graduate assistant for KU's Small Business Development Center. Rodriguez believed that choosing KU to obtain his MBA was the best choice, because of the opportunity to work and gain first-hand experience as a graduate assistant.
"I felt that coupling the learning component (of working at the SBDC) and the experiential knowledge with the academic side of the MBA would be really valuable," Rodríguez said.
Rodríguez originally had intentions of pursuing a career in history with his undergraduate degree in Spanish and history. After spending some time traveling after graduation, though, he thought business may be a good path, specifically economic development.
"Through the SBDC, I'm working as an advisor to young entrepreneurs through the Jump Start Incubator project in Reading, Pa.," Rodríguez explained. "JSI's mission is to promote innovation to enable emerging companies to secure long-term sustainability. With that comes the creation of new jobs which can help increase the tax base and diversify the economy."
As a result of the Jump Start Incubator growth and Rodríguez's participation, the third floor of the Berks County Community Foundation's Green Building in Reading, Pa., will be staffed for small business owners. Rodríguez also has a hand in the Latino Business Resource Center, which is a section of the SBDC that caters to the local Spanish-speaking community.
"The real-world experience of working with local entrepreneurs and local leaders through the Jump Start Incubator and Latino Business Resource Center has been inspiring. It feels good to know that the work I'm doing makes a difference for local business owners and for the City of Reading as a whole."
On offering advice to incoming KU students, Rodríguez says, "Work hard, have fun, and enjoy it, because it will go by really fast."
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