Sept. 14, 2021
Calgary startup, ParkChamp, receives boost from MITACS Business Strategy Internship students
ParkChamp is a startup in its early growth phase, having started in 2017. As a startup, their operations are lean – with seven full-time employees. CEO, Maggie Young is always on the lookout to efficiently build the talent pool. The MITACS Business Strategy Internship program was able to help.
“I was looking for opportunities for funding to be able to hire more interns and this was a perfect program,” says Young. “It has a very straightforward application process that fit our business and the funding definitely helped.”
MITACS launched the internship program in 2020 in response to the pressures placed on students and businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Haskayne partnered with MITACS, offering the first internships in July 2020. The program provides real-world experience and career connections for students while at the same time supporting businesses and non-profits. Through this partnership, 61 companies were able to hire interns and 95 Haskayne students completed at least one four-month paid internship. A total of 119 four-month internships were created for Haskayne students.
Young was able to hire Haskayne student Adam Davis through the program and he has now been with ParkChamp for three semesters.
“I have managed to grow alongside ParkChamp. I've been able to apply many skills that I have learned in school. It’s been a great journey,” says Davis who is majoring in Finance but has been nurturing his strong interest in entrepreneurship along the way.
Successful program has been extended
Due to the success of the initial program, the MITACS Business Strategy Internship program has been extended to be an ongoing program at the Haskayne School of Business. The program has been adapted with feedback from the initial implementation. Now, applications are accepted on a rolling basis rather than a limited time period, which will allow more organizations to participate in the program.
All Haskayne undergraduate and graduate students are eligible including international students, providing a wide talent pool for organizations to select from. Internships can be completed over four months (full-time) or six months (part-time).
“We are excited this innovative partnership will continue because we saw tremendous success for our students and employers,” says Kaili Xu, director, Student Success, Haskayne School of Business. “We had 37 new companies engage with Haskayne for the first time and they were able to realize the benefits of hiring a student.”
The stipend for the paid internship is split between MITACS and the hiring organization with $10,000 per internship for undergraduate students and $15,000 per internship for graduate students. MITACS is offering additional funding to a limited number of small- and medium-sized enterprises and Indigenous businesses where the hiring organization would pay half of the typical contribution.
A course that changed a life
ParkChamp was conceived at the University of Calgary. Young met co-founder Alex Chalamova during a first-year entrepreneurship course taught by Dr. Mohammad Keyhani. The two kept in touch and when Young came up with the concept for the new business, she reached out to Chalamova to pursue.
Since its inception, the company has been a software company focused on making parking easier. In the past 18 months, the company has pivoted to offer an integrated parking solution specifically tailored to commercial offices with a mobile app that delivers a parking management platform that makes administration easy for landlords and property managers.
“After COVID, we have seen a lot of companies adopting a flexible work week, so our solution helps accommodate this,” says Young. “In Calgary we saw an opportunity, especially with the economic downturn in commercial real estate and office vacancies, to help provide some needed revenue to these operators in an easy-to-manage way.”
In addition to Davis, ParkChamp has recently hired Shane Yoo as an intern and has hired Georgy Busov, who was previously an intern, as a full-time junior data analyst.
“Having a background in finance, Georgy has been able to work on our financial analysis for their data scientists - looking at algorithms to batch payments and sort transactions,” says Young. “He's had a really big impact there in our ability to keep financial controls, through our automated platform.”