First-year Clinton School student Dylan Edgell looks forward to furthering his business and entrepreneurial experiences this summer when he travels to Ollantatytambo, Peru, for his International Public Service Project with Awamaki.
Edgell’s public service interests include economic development and entrepreneurship, which will both be put to use this summer. Awamaki is a nonprofit that helps Peruvian women start and run their own businesses, investing in their skills and leadership while connecting them to global markets.
Edgell will be a part of Awamaki’s monitoring and evaluation team, measuring the social and economic impact of businesses on the community. Edgell will also be analyzing sales data and helping women develop business skills.
In addition to Edgell, first-year students Mark Cameron and Sara Swisher will be working with Awamaki this summer. Cameron is set to organize and carry out focus groups, surveys and workshops for Awamaki’s women’s economic empowerment project. Swisher will also be involved with focus groups and interviews to contribute to the program’s annual evaluation report.
Edgell graduated from Arkansas Tech University as a double major in economics and finance and management and marketing. He served as president of the largest student group on campus, Enactus, an entrepreneurial club organized through the university’s college of business.
In addition to his education and experience with Enactus, Edgell interned with U.S. Representative Steve Womack before working with Dillard’s, Inc., as an assistant buyer.
Can you describe your experience as an intern with the United States House of Representatives?
It was in the summer of 2015, and I was with Congressman Steve Womack of the third congressional district of Arkansas. I mainly answered telephone calls from constituents and gave tours of the U.S. Capitol to Arkansans coming into Washington D.C. I was also able to sit in on some hearings and take notes for our legislative correspondents, who would then use those notes to inform the congressmen and make decisions on policies.
The Arkansas Fellowship was an entrepreneurial fellowship. Through the fellowship, you interview for jobs with Arkansas-based companies. I was placed at Dillard’s as a corporate assistant buyer. With the fellowship, we were able to travel around the state and visit startups and hear from people who are business leaders in Arkansas and in the startup scene. It was really cool to see that side of the business. I’ve mainly seen larger companies, so it was cool to see the smaller side.
Tell us about your IPSP. Did your previous experiences play a role in your choice of IPSP? And if so, what was that like?
I’ll be going to Peru – Ollantaytambo, Peru, with Awamaki. I’ll be measuring their social and economic impact and working with their sales team to give them recommendations about how they can improve.
It was definitely connected. I have a passion for economic development and entrepreneurship, and that’s kind of why I chose the Arkansas Fellowship after I graduated. My time at Dillard’s gave me a lot of experience in retail, sales and analysis, which is basically what I’ll be doing with Awamaki. I’ll be analyzing their sales, and that’s directly from Dillard’s. With the fellowship we learned a lot about entrepreneurship, and Awamaki works with women to help them set up small businesses and develop business skills. So yes, it’s directly connected.
Did your degrees in finance and economics influence your interests in public service?
I was in economics-finance and management-marketing, and I was also the president of the entrepreneurship club at Arkansas Tech. It was called Enactus, and we designed community service projects with a business mindset and implemented them into the community. That’s where the spark for public service started. Also, with economics I learned a lot about policies that help underserved people. I took a class called economics of labor relations that focused on a community development plan for Russellville, which is where Arkansas Tech is located. There are a few experiences that I was exposed to that led me to public service.
Can you give some examples of the types of community service projects, created by the entrepreneurship group you were a part of, that had a business mentality?
There was a women’s economic empowerment project where we got nontraditional students at Arkansas Tech, and we gave them workshops on resume building and different business skills. There was also a project where we consulted a small business. We worked with them and helped them improve their processes from what we learned in class. We had some general things like canned food drives and electronic waste drives, where we collected six tons of electronic waste. There were a few different projects in different areas.
Part of it is because it’s in Little Rock. I’m from Arkansas and want to stay in Arkansas; it was a really good location for me. I had a few friends that went to school here – Hunter Mullins of Class 9 and Claire Hodgson of Class 11 – both from Arkansas Tech. I followed them on social media and saw that they were doing really cool stuff. After I worked at Dillard’s for a little over a year, I wanted to transition into the nonprofit world and thought that the Clinton School would be a really good way to do that.