New UI Partners program trains students to provide IT solutions for small businesses

By: Julia Jessen
Technology morphs at a dizzying speed. In the time it takes to master one technology, it can become obsolete. This is a major concern for small businesses that need to be knowledgeable in information technologies in order to remain efficient, relevant, and successful. Often, a lack of time and resources makes keeping up with the changing technological landscape impossible.  
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UI Partners, a new IT consulting program out of the University of Iowa, is eager to change that. 
“One of our biggest goals is to help small businesses grow and help startups and entrepreneurs be able to succeed and get to the next level,” said Hayley Yearian, Associate Director of Economic Development with UI Partners. “Another goal is to help students get real world experience.”
The program provides small businesses with free, no commitment IT consultations that focus on the business’ needs and issues. The program leaders (Yearian and IT Support Consultant, Adam Engel) then consult with student interns to create solutions to these problems. If the businesses choose to continue with the prescribed course of action, the UI Partners interns will begin implementation. 
UI Partners comes out of a recognized need across Iowa for more skilled IT workers. Program leaders and officials from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development said the project will address this need and be mutually beneficial for students, businesses, and the Iowa economy.
“The university contributes to economic growth in many ways, by training students (undergraduate, graduate, and postdoc), creating new knowledge and intellectual property that is licensed to companies, and by working directly with businesses to help them remain competitive,” said Dan Reed, UI Vice President for Research and Economic Development. 
The new UI Partners student interns said they are looking forward to gaining more IT experience while also meeting small businesses and potential future employers.



(UI Partners summer 2014 student employees pictured at left: Nick Dykstra, Jhon Roa, Edgar Lopez, Amanda Greene)

“I’m excited about the broad spectrum of opportunities it provides from web developing to networking to other computerized tasks,” said Nick Dykstra, a UI senior studying informatics and international studies. 
His peer, Jhon Roa, a UI junior studying finance, agreed, saying he looks forward to working closely with small businesses and providing them with a younger perspective on business marketing trends.
“I’m closely involved with the entrepreneurial program here at the university, so getting to know startups and small businesses will be really beneficial for me,” he said.
Yearian and Engel said that they hope to partner with existing IT consulting firms to help as many businesses as possible complete projects and grow.
“We basically hand out an IT assessment, and if they go to other companies in the area to provide those solutions…that’s still a win for us,” said Engel. “We show them a need and they can choose to implement it other places.”
Though UI Partners is just beginning, its organizers already have plans to establish more UI Partners Engagement Centers across Iowa, starting in Council Bluffs. This effort strives to convey that the university is helping to boost the economy throughout the state.
“The direct correlation between IT jobs and economic growth is pretty substantial, so I think if we’re boosting that segment, others will follow,” said Engel.
Deputy Director of Economic Development, David Conrad, said the goal of the program and its expansion is to foster collaboration between small businesses and the university, an idea expressed in the program’s name.
“If I were to see what it would look like if most successful, it would be a real partnership between local Iowa businesses and the University where we really started to collaborate and work together on projects,” he said. “If the partner part comes true, I’ll be happy about that.”

If your business could benefit from some IT help, UI Partners wants to talk to you! Call or email today to set up a free, no commitment IT consultation with the skilled IT experts of UI Partners.


Students, if you’re hoping to improve your IT skills while making connections with small businesses, UI Partners hires paid student interns and accepts applications from any college. Visit their website to apply today.

Contact UI Partners:
Ph: 1-844-UIPartners (1-844-847-2786)