LSBDC at ULM grad assistants move up to work in big business

When you’re mission is to help the community, there should be no limit to your efforts. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) at ULM is a business resource that has not only sparked the business community but has boosted college graduate assistants’ potential as well by giving them real-world business experience.

The LSBDC at ULM welcomed five graduate assistants to the office since 2010 and many of them have used what they’ve learned working with business consultants and financial managers to their advantage in professional careers. Whether it’s leaving the LSBDC at ULM to take on a full-time paid internship, getting a job as a Financial Advisor, or even opening a business, graduate assistants are prepared to take on the business world.


The LSBDC exposes its graduate assistants to robust databases, business research resources, and knowledgeable experts that teach them how to navigate the obstacles that come with innovating, launching, growing, renewing, and transitioning a business. It’s not a surprise when they go on and do well in their careers.

Just ask Brian Evans. He received his Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) from ULM in 2010, and served as a graduate assistant with the LSBDC at ULM during his time in the MBA program. Now he works as a Financial Advisor at Northwestern Mutual in Shreveport.

“Working with the LSBDC was a good experience to work among professionals and be treated like a colleague rather than a student,” Evans said. “It’s really big for students in the finance and accounting world because you’re working with balance sheets and financial statements everyday so when you get into the real world you already have that level of comfort with it.”

LSBDC at ULM Senior Business Consultant Virendra Chhikara is also a product of the program. He was an ULM MBA graduate, worked as an LSBDC graduate assistant, but stayed with the LSBDC and now has worked to become the lead expert at the ULM center.


He knows the benefits of the program as both a graduate assistant and as an employer working with the graduate assistants.

“I remember the things I learned here as a graduate assistant being very valuable and obviously I cherish that because I am able to have a career here,” Chhikara said. “Now, as the one who teaches the next generation of business leaders and experts, I am able to mentor and share insight with them that I hope they carry on whether they are able to come back and work here with us or any other opportunity they have next.”

Chhikara has been able to use his graduate assistant experience to help teach those who have followed after him such as Saleh Alnamlah and Siripong Saetieo who are both graduates of ULM’s MBA program in May 2015.

“The LSBDC at ULM believes in giving the graduate assistants and even student-workers the best experience possible because any of them can become the next Steve Jobs and change the world,” Chhikara said.

Because of the work with the LBSDC at ULM and Chhikara, Alnamlah has been accepted as an intern at CenturyLink, which also promises a permanent job upon completion of the internship.


“I’m excited about the new opportunity to learn and work at a place like CenturyLink,” Alnamlah said. “The things I learned at the LSBDC at ULM have helped me grow a lot in the business world.”

Alnamlah said the LSBDC is a good place to learn about every aspect of the business world because “I’m able to learn from the best experts in business and clients have shared insight with me as well.”

“After being at the LSBDC I’m thinking about starting my own business in my hometown in Saudi Arabia in the future,” Alnamlah said. “Just looking at some of the businesses that have started and hearing the ideas come in here at the LSBDC I’ve come up with some good ideas of my own.”

While Alnamlah has the desire to start his own business, Saetieo has acted on it. As a native of Thailand, Saetieo is in the works now to return home with family and open a hotel and start his own business venture.


“The things I learned at the LSBDC taught me how to research and study the dynamics of a business and running one successfully,” Saetieo said. “I’ve learned things such as communicating and target marketing, and as well as writing business plans.”

“The LSBDC is the best place to learn if you’re looking to go into the business world,” Saetieo said.

Alnamlah added: “Working with [Chhikara] has taught me a lot, not just professionally either. He’s helped keep me on track as a student and as a friend. He’s a great mentor to have all around because he’s honest and knowledgeable.”

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The Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network, hosted by Louisiana Delta Community College, is a member of the National Association of Small Business Development Centers and funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Economic Development and participating universities. All SBA programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and/or limited English proficiency will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.
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