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EHS Graduate Building Painting Business in Eagan

Michael Rahman was selected for a highly competitive College Works Painting internship. The program puts students at the helm of a small business for a single summer.

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Michael Rahman may only be one year removed from Eagan High School, but that isn't keeping this young entrepreneur from running his own business.

Rahman, a 2012 EHS graduate, is a freshman business student at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. This spring, he'll be backing up those classroom lessons with some real world experience, thanks to a highly selective internship with College Works Painters.

Rahman was one of roughly 2,000 interns across 19 states hired this year to manage a team of young painters, marketers and other employees operating in Eagan. The company provides its college interns with painting supplies, a budget and extensive mentoring, then steps back as the student takes charge of building revenue, controlling costs and maintaining all other aspects of a small exterior painting business.

“I think the most valuable thing I’m hoping to get away from this is the time management, leadership and figuring out what needs to get done, not in just a business aspect, but in a life aspect," Rahman said.

Rahman got his first taste of College Works Painting last summer, when he was hired by another College Works intern for door-to-door marketing. Impressed by the experience, Rahman decided to dive into the program. He applied late last year, went through several interviews and was selected for an internship.

Although the painting season doesn't start until June, Rahman already has his hands full scouting out potential clients, hiring his team and setting business initiatives in motion.

College Works, a for-profit company, takes a portion of the earnings from each home painted, but compensates its interns over the course of the summer—in addition to the up-front investment the company makes in supplies, training and mentoring. Interns are mentored at each step of the way by someone who has successfully completed the program.

For Rahman, who is interested in a career in nonprofit management, the internship was an opportunity to branch out and pick up new skills. Even more important for the EHS grad, however, was the opportunity to meet new people.

"One aspect I’m looking forward is going down and actually talking to people about sales," Rahman said. "I could drive by next summer and say, 'Hey, I painted that house, and I know that family."

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