Park City High School’s PCCAPS program helps entrepreneurs scale growth
When starting a business, there are always a thousand assignments to cross off the list. Having a limited staff, as most startups do, makes the tasks even more difficult to complete.
The Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies(PCCAPS) helps fill the workforce gaps at businesses while providing real-life learning opportunities for students from Park City High School. Each semester, dozens of students work on various projects with small and large businesses around town. Ted McAleer, business coordinator for PCCAPS, said the program has facilitated more than 100 projects since its inception. PCCAPS can be particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs, he said, not only for the extra hand but for the opportunity for them to learn how to manage and scale a team.
“Entrepreneurship is challenging, and one of the toughest phases of an entrepreneur’s new business launch is going from two to 20 employees,” he said.
Enter the PCCAPS students, who help businesses come up with marketing and business plans so they can build revenue to hire more employees.
Four students are helping Audrey Lee do just that this year. Lee, who started her nutrition and fitness program Power to Shred in 2015, said she is learning how to manage a group of interns through PCCAPS.
The students are helping her create an eight-week nutrition and training program to get skiers and snowboarders ready for a good season by focusing on the branding, the company’s mission and the customer experience.
“Having a team is amazing because I’ve been doing everything on my own,” she said.
So far, having people in the room with different perspectives and ideas has been one of the most helpful aspects.
“We are creating a business together, and the more that we can learn and help each other and really hone in on our unique talents and really bring those to the table, we can do so much more,” she said.
Bringing in fresh eyes is exactly what Kimber Gabryszak, vice president of client success at the artificial intelligence messaging software company AtlasRTX, likes about the PCCAPS program. She had students work on training materials for the business’s clients last school year.
“By bringing in a younger generation, you are getting the younger perspective as well, which helps you have a more well-rounded view,” she said. “They had some great comments and feedback and I was like, ‘I hadn’t thought about it that way.’”
AtlasRTX is a growing company, but still relatively small, since it started only a couple years ago. Gabryszak said having the PCCAPS students in the office helps the business “identify weaknesses in (its) training and onboarding process.”
Gabryszak said she and her coworkers like to be able to provide opportunities for students to experience a field of work they are considering pursuing. She said the business is also open to hiring the student interns down the road, as is Backcountry, an e-commerce company headquartered in Park City.
John Peter Barrand, director of human resources at Backcountry, said students who have made good impressions as PCCAPS interns are on his list of people to reach out to when jobs open up.
He, too, said the company benefits from having young minds in the room, because many times that is who their products are targeting. But by going through PCCAPS, the students are prepared to come into the office. They learn how to professionally respond to emails and do a business presentation before stepping into their internship.
“Running an operational business, a leader can’t slow down as quickly as you want them to scale up a 16- or 17-year-old student,” he said.
In May, the long-time owners, Joy and Geir Vik, announced their retirement and passed on the business to the Brian and Dena Merrill, and their son, Dylan, who had been their friends and colleagues for years.
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