May 17, 1999
Brian Ravenel (left) and Mason Thompson are learning how to run their own business in the real world.
by Deborah Stone, features writer
College Works Painting is a program in which ambitious college students learn how to run their own business in the real world. This is a fairly exclusive internship, as only eight percent of the applicants are accepted.
Each intern is responsible for every part of their business, including advertising, estimating, hiring, managing, and assuring that their crews perform a top quality job. Interns receive twelve academic credits for their participation in this program.
College Works Painting started in 1980 in California and has grown and spread to Washington, Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Texas. There are about sixty-five students in Washington who are currently in the program and they represent several colleges and universities.
Mason Thompson and Brian Ravenel are both University of Washington students from the Woodinville area. Thompson, 19, is a graduate of Chrysalis High School in Woodinville and spent two years at Bellevue Community College in Running Start, where he earned his Associate in Arts and Sciences degree at the age of 18. At the end of the current quarter, he will be a senior and plans to graduate from the UW in the spring of 2000 with his bachelor's in business administration. Ravenel, also 19, graduated from Woodinville High School in 1998 and is currently finishing his freshman year at the UW.
Both young men are taking full course loads at school, as well as doing this internship. They were accepted into the program last October and began training in February in all aspects of the painting business.
Thompson sees this internship as a great hands-on opportunity in the best environment possible--the real world.
"I feel that the skills that I will be getting through this are ones that will be incredibly useful in the future. I'm learning so much about how to manage time and people, as well as to motivate others. Good people skills are essential in life. This internship will also help to increase my market availability to future employers," Thompson said.
Thompson's goal is to do between thirty to thirty-five houses this summer, and thus far, his bookings have been steady. He is beginning to hire and train crews to start work in the next month.
Ravenel is attracted to the College Works Painting program because he is interested in seeing what it takes to run a successful business. "This gives me the firsthand experience without all the financial risks of start-up costs and insurance," Ravenel explained. "I plan to pursue a graduate degree in business at the UW and it's a very competitive program, so this will also help me build up my background. My goal is to go into business consulting and teach others how to run a successful business."
Both Thompson and Ravenel have been enjoying their internship, but they have found that it is definitely hard work that takes commitment and much time.
"I'm putting in about thirty hours a week," says Ravenel. "Right now it's a lot of cold calls, doing the marketing, putting together the bids, and hiring crews. I have booked fifteen houses already and hope to do about thirty, which is about $70,000 worth of business. I'll need about three crews to do the work."
Interns make about a twenty percent cut from each house they paint. "You're in charge of making it what you want," explains Thompson. "The harder you work and the more you put into it, the more successful you'll be."
Ravenel adds, "I'm finding that it takes big-time determination and the ability to adapt to all sorts of situations."
The program provides support and guidance to the interns at all steps of the process. College Works Painting is fully licensed and insured, and is registered with the Better Business Bureau. It has a high customer service rating and encourages its employees to strive toward complete customer satisfaction in each of the jobs done.
"It is important for me to get a reference letter from each of my customers," says Thompson. "I care about doing quality work and every paint job will be top quality."
For more information about College Works Painting, contact Mason Thompson in the Woodinville area at 206-907-9130 or Brain Ravenel in Bothell at 206-907-0111.