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North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps

The Challenge: A More Entrepreneurial State Government

The North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps (NCEC) creates a new work-based learning opportunity for North Carolina’s college students to serve their state in a meaningful, high impact, and flexible way. This program leads to a more entrepreneurial state government, with rapid adoption of industry-leading technology and better interactions between North Carolinians and government services.

Students from across the state (both four-year and community college students) will work together to solve key challenges as identified by the North Carolina Department of Information and Technology (NCDIT). Students can apply as teams or as individuals. Individuals will be grouped together to work remotely as entrepreneurship teams. Each team will be assigned both an entrepreneurial mentor from the Governors Entrepreneurship Council and a technical mentor from NCDIT.

Over the semester (February 2020-April 2020) the students will go through the entrepreneurial process including idea generation, concept development, customer feedback, and creation of a final product. The new and innovative product can work toward improving services for citizens throughout the state. At the conclusion of the semester the teams will present their projects, and will meet and take pictures with the Governor. Applications are due January 15.

Apply for the Challenge

Challenge 1: Recruiting & Retaining a 21st Century IT Workforce

Background

In the 21st Century, it is crucial that North Carolina government hire and retain young IT talent to help solve existing and emerging technical challenges from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence. As current IT employees approach retirement, local, state, and federal governments are seeking new solutions to create a pipeline for bringing in younger employees. But there are significant hurdles to find, attract, hire, and retain younger employees, including: 

  • Lower salaries than private sector 
  • Organizational/cultural practices that discourage innovation and creativity 
  • Outdated government buildings and workspaces 
  • Difficulty rewarding strong performers with salary increases (while older employees who may not have adapted to change retain high salaries based on seniority) 
  • Computers, tools, and software that are "clunky" 
  • HR job classifications that aren't reflective of modern IT/tech roles. 

Still, there are many benefits and rewards that come with working state government IT that have not been well marketed to young workers seeking an IT and tech job in state government. For example, these employees may have the ability to create and improve modern websites and apps that to deliver services to citizens and constituents.

Challenge Statement

Develop a strategic marketing campaign to attract young tech talent to state government.

Skills

Storytelling and Communications, Graphic Design (i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator), Digital Marketing, Survey Design, Analytics, Design Thinking, Social Media Strategy, Persona Development, Quantitative/Qualitative Data

Student Areas

Design, Business/Marketing, Journalism, Public Relations, Information and Library Science, Computer Science/IT, Digital, Education, Policy, Government, Various Social Sciences (i.e. Psychology)

Challenge 2: New Digital Channel, Constituent Resources through Alexa

Background

Websites, apps, and social media are no longer the only digital touchpoints that citizens and constituents are using to interact with businesses, services, and governments. Virtual assistants, chatbots, and smart speakers are examples of new channels growing in popularity. The State of North Carolina is not currently using these channels, which is a missed opportunity for innovative and accessible interaction with constituents. Several other states, such as Georgia have launched new channels, such as "Ask GeorgiaGov", an Alexa skill.

Challenge Statement

Create an Alexa-activated tool set for the State of North Carolina that can address key information and service delivery areas on NC.gov.

Skills

Amazon Web Services (i.e. Lex, Lamda), Amazon Developer Platform, User Experience (UX), Conversational Design, Agile/Iterative mindset, Creativity

Student Areas

Computer Science/IT, Information and Library Science, Design, Psychology, Communications

Challenge 3: Analytics Dashboard for Citizens

Background

Analytics.usa.gov is an official service of the US Government that provides a window into how people are interacting with the government online. The data comes from a unified Google Analytics account for U.S. federal government agencies known as the Digital Analytics Program which helps government agencies understand how people find, access, and use government services online. The dashboard provides important insights about what government websites, pages, and services are being visited, top downloads, geographic information and so on.

Challenge Statement

Leverage the code and API to create an analytics dashboard for the State of North Carolina.  

Skills

Front-End Web Development (i.e. HTML 5, JS, CSS), API, Git Code Repository, Google Analytics, Open Source

Student Areas

Computer Science/IT, Coding Academies, Communications, Information and Library Sciences, Geography, Marketing

Frequently Asked Questions about the NC Entrepreneur Corps

How does the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps work?

How does the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps work?

The North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps is a new learning opportunity for North Carolina’s college and university students to serve their state government in a meaningful way. Selected students will work remotely in teams to solve key challenges facing state government identified by the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT). Students will be paired with a technical advisor from NCDIT, as well as an entrepreneur mentor who will give students real-world perspective on the entrepreneurial process, including idea generation, concept development, customer feedback, and creation of a final product. At the conclusion of the Corps, teams will be invited to present their final product solutions to a panel and meet and take pictures with Governor Cooper.

Who can participate in the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps?

Who can participate in the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps?

Students currently enrolled in any four-year university or college or community college in North Carolina are eligible to participate in the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps.

Can I apply as an individual or do I need to form my own team?

Can I apply as an individual or do I need to form my own team?

Students can apply either individually or as a team of 3-5 members. Students applying individually and accepted into the Entrepreneur Corps will be placed on a team with other students across the state by the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps leadership team.

What is the time commitment to participate in the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps?

What is the time commitment to participate in the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps?

The Entrepreneur Corps will kick off in early February and conclude in mid-April. Teams must commit to a bi-weekly remote meeting with an advisor from the North Carolina Department of Information Technology and a monthly remote meeting with a mentor from the Governor’s Entrepreneurship Council. Timelines and workflows for completing a challenge are entirely dictated by the student team, and challenges will be completed remotely. At the conclusion of the Entrepreneur Corps, students will be invited to present their final projects to a panel of evaluators.

Do I need to be tech-savvy to participate in the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps?

Do I need to be tech-savvy to participate in the North Carolina Entrepreneur Corps?

No! The Entrepreneur Corps challenges require diverse skillsets, including communication and marketing know-how, aptitude for problem-solving, analytical skills, and the ability to think creatively. Teams competing in the “New Digital Channel” and “Analytics Dashboard” challenges will benefit from having a team member savvy in web development, coding, or user experience, but will also require students interested in design, psychology, communications, and other skillsets. The Entrepreneur Corps leadership team will make every effort to form teams of students that bring diverse talents to the table. Students applying as a team should consider a diversity of skillsets in their membership.