UCR students “were tasked to find a solution to bring prosperity to the Inland Empire, specifically, the city of Riverside,” says student intern Pierre CeArc ’20, ’23 MBA about his internship with Riverside’s Cinema Culturas.
The 135-hour internship offered by Cinema Culturas, a Riverside business and film festival, hosts interns from a different college or university each year. The students are introduced to a film’s topic to use for inspiration in their project. During fall 2022, interns were motivated by the concept in “Our Towns,” a documentary exploring how civic engagement transforms communities across the U.S.
“The internship is designed to provide both professional development and hands-on experience,” says Cony Martinez, Ph.D., founder and general director of Cinema Culturas, of the time the students spend researching issues related to the city, interviewing citizens, and creating a proposal for city leaders.
The students agreed on three different areas of the city’s economy to explore and present to city leaders: business development, transportation, and cultural celebrations. “We spent hours researching, developing, and writing our proposal on top of attending seminars with collaborators, who shared their own stories and how they developed their businesses,” says CeArc of his work with fellow interns Carol Kao ’21, ’23 MBA and Mallika Tewari.
The students’ work culminated in an on-campus multimedia presentation at a 25-person roundtable on Nov. 5, 2022, attended by the Riverside mayor and a city council member; UCR School of Business Dean Yunzeng Wang; education, legal, and health-care professionals; and fellow business students.
“We presented ideas for supporting new businesses, optimizing new and existing transportation services, and establishing cultural celebrations to develop an identity for the region,” says CeArc. In turn, those present provided input for their proposal.
“I was struck by the creativity of the students and their vision of a future-forward program,” says Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson. “These students are creating the world we are growing old in, and the ideas they presented provided solutions to actual problems faced by our community.
“I am grateful for the students’ interest in making our city a vibrant place brimming with opportunity now and for future generations.”
Riverside Councilmember Erin Edwards attended the roundtable and says, “I am happy to see that students understand art and cultural events as economic prosperity. In fact, this is exactly the mindset we need to propel Riverside into our next chapter of economic development.”
Student intern Kao says she was also most interested in the proposal’s emphasis on cultural celebrations in Riverside: “Since we are living in a post-pandemic time, I believe Riverside should host festivals and events to improve the mood and sense of community here. For me, an important part of the forum was hearing other people’s perspectives.”
CeArc was similarly pleased about the group’s post-presentation discussion. “Being able to present our proposal and concerns to high-level officials in this environment, where everyone was relaxed and felt comfortable responding, was a powerful and effective platform to address issues and suggest long-lasting solutions,” he says. “The guests also shed light on our ideas and whether they were viable, along with suggesting other areas that might be addressed.”
He will also use the research and public-speaking strategies he learned during the internship as he looks toward his career. “This internship helped illuminate the process of developing solutions using real-world data and presenting a proposal to a group of individuals,” he says. “I also gained insight into the local politics, governments, and communities in the region.”
The roundtable’s healthy dialogue is a valuable culmination of a research-intensive internship focused on the local community, according to Martinez. “There is a well of knowledge and innovative ideas to be drawn from the students of the UCR School of Business,” she says. “They have the potential to propel economic prosperity in one of the fastest-growing regions in the U.S., Southern California’s Inland Empire, and especially the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino.”
Header image (from left to right): Mallika Tewari, Carol Kao ’21, ’23 MBA, Cinema Culturas general director and founder Cony Martinez, Ph.D., Riverside Councilmember Erin Edwards, Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson, and Pierre CeArc ’20, ’23 MBA