iMADdu (George Mason University)
Mona Anita Olsen is a multi-tasker. She is a PhD student at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education and a member of the research faculty. In between her office hours and her grueling final year of course studies, Olsen wanted to do more. And this time, she wanted to help others make an impact in the next generation of entrepreneurs.
As part of her PhD program, she started a non-profit organization to teach students “practical entrepreneurship”. Started in early 2010, the startup was coined iMADdu which stands for “I Make a Difference, Do You?” and is pronounced “eye-mah-do”.
The 12-week Student Apprenticeship Program is designed to give students hands-on experience working directly with local small businesses and nonprofits to impact community. While earning academic credit, students learn how to apply classroom lessons in an entrepreneurial venture so they can quickly start to make a positive impact on society.
Finding the Right Tools
There were student applications to track, interviews to conduct with organizations, placements to secure, curriculum modules to create, and schedules to manage. With little time on her hands, Olsen also needed a way to efficiently monitor the remote engagements and track the students’ hours, to ensure everything was on schedule and the students were accountable.
To efficiently manage client projects, students needed a way to share files and project information. Everyone needed easy access to the information, from any location and device.
With her list of requirements in hand, Olsen didn’t have to look far to find a tool to help keep the program and students on task. A colleague introduced Olsen to SmartSheet. She tested out other solutions including Liquid Planner, but none was as easy to use and offered the customization options that Smartsheet did.
iMADdu uses Smartsheet for:
“My entire philosophy about education is based around the model that best teaches students how to be an entrepreneur,” says Olsen. “The opportunity at iMADdu, along with leveraging tools such as Smartsheet, has allowed students to go from thinking they’d be good at something, to actually KNOWING they can do it. That’s a huge advantage and confidence-booster when they enter the workforce regardless of what career track they take.”