Learning the skills of a strong manager

Monday, April 10, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:45 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

Four months ago, David Boyd knew little about exterior painting. Now, he spends his weekends promoting his painting business and giving estimates.

An international-business student, Boyd is looking forward to graduating from MU in December. He hopes his experience as an intern for College Works Painting will help him in the future.

“I know that a lot of national companies like to hire College Works interns,” Boyd said. “One of the things that really drew me to College Works was the potential of getting a job afterward.”

College Works Painting, formed by National Services Group in 1987, trains interns in business management and provides them with the resources needed to start an exterior-painting business.

Almost 50,000 college students apply for the program, but only 2,200 are offered internships, said Matthew Stewart, co-founder of College Works, based in California.

Students act as branch managers for the business while learning leadership and management skills. As a branch operator in Columbia, Boyd is responsible for designing and implementing a marketing program, working with customers and training employees, as well as hiring and supervising painting crews.

Experienced College Works Painting district managers provide classroom and “in the field” instruction for interns, who must learn business and painting skills before May, when on-site painting begins.

Stewart said the average intern earns $3,900. He said that the money seems attractive but that many students don’t realize how much work is required.

“Some will start the training and realize the internship is not for everyone,” Stewart said. “There are a lot of interns that don’t make it through the program.”

Boyd doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon. Although most of his tasks so far have been paperwork and door-to-door marketing, he said he is already learning what it takes to start a business.

“One of the things I’ve learned so far is perseverance,” he said. “Since we’re running our own painting business, we really have to be self-motivated and self-driven.”

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