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College students get hands-on lesson in business

August 13, 2000

College students get hands-on lesson in business



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer

photo: RYAN ANSON / staff photographer

StudentBiz.netAshley Ommert wasn't worrying about spending her summer vacation hanging out on the beach or cultivating other college student stereotypes.

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Instead, Ommert took charge of a small house painting business in May, which is on pace to make nearly $60,000 in a little more than three months.

Not bad for a group of five students just learning the ropes of the business world, according to Brian Gummel, owner and CEO of StudentBiz.Net.

Gummel started StudentBiz.Net in January, a company that allows college students to either manage or work for small, self-run painting businesses. The students are paid and receive college internship credits.

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Ommert, a junior business finance major at Frostburg State University and native of Hagerstown, said the experience is opening her eyes to what it's like to be a business owner.

As manager of a four-member crew, Ommert must find customers, perform work estimates, market her business, do payroll, buy supplies and supervise her employees. She works seven days a week getting everything organized. Her crew works 10 hour days four days a week.

"It's giving me a definite taste of the ins and outs of running a business," Ommert said.

Ommert saw a StudentBiz.Net flyer at school advertising a manager position. Three interviews and a week later, Ommert began training for the job in March and began working in May.

Her typical day starts off at 7 a.m., when she meets with the crew at a job site. She then spends the rest of the day distributing flyers, putting up signs, works on job estimates and writes up daily reports to Gummel.

"Not everyone is as talented as Ashley so far," Gummel said. "They're going to make between $55,000 to $56,000 and they didn't start painting until June."

Ommert will be paid between $6,000 to $7,000 for her efforts, Gummel said.

Ommert said the crew has painted about 30 homes in Washington and Frederick counties so far. The crew has two more weeks to go before they head back to college. She credits much of the company's success to the dedication of those employees, Kedra Popper and Mike Maginnis of Smithsburg and Jeremy Sowers and CJ Winger of Boonsboro. Popper, Maginnis and Sowers also attend FSU, while Winger attends Saint Mary's College.

"My workers are just doing wonderful," Ommert said. "They've kept positive attitudes even when it's 95 degrees outside."

She said there have been times when it was hard to find customers but jobs have always ended up coming around.

"It's definitely difficult when you know that you don't have work the next week for your crew," Ommert said. "I don't let them know that, but at last minute something has always come up."

Gummel said a goal of StudentBiz.Net is to bring back respect to the painting business and give students hands-on experience in the workforce.

"The painting industry is not the most reputable business out there," Gummel said. "We provide sharp-looking, interested college students. These students are hungry to learn the business."

Ommert said the internship will help her fulfill her goal of opening her own financial consulting company.

"Now I know the business part,"she said. "Next I want to learn the finance."

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