Through the Rutgers MBS Externship Exchange program, students exercise classroom knowledge and skills in real-world situations. This summer, a group of students completed an externship project benefitting a local business with a special connection to Rutgers. Kraus Farms, run by Rutgers alumna Cathy Kraus and her husband Joel, is just a stone’s throw away from Rutgers—New Brunswick in the town of Somerset, New Jersey. 

Located on six acres of land, this hobby farm sells honey, candles, maple syrup, and other products made from on-site natural resources. The goal of this externship project was to help Joel and Cathy Kraus turn the hobby farm into a self-sustaining operation and have a positive impact on the community. Students created a five-year business plan for profitability.   

The team consisted of externs: 

  • Estella Gomes (Team Lead), MBS, Personal Care Science 
  • Heeru Murjani, MBS, Global Food Technology and Innovation 
  • Dennis Wang, School of Engineering, Environmental Engineering 
  • Khalil Dowdy, MBS, User Experience Design 
  • Amanda Beaner, MBS, Global Food Technology, Innovation, and Sustainability 
  • Beata Modzelewski, MBS, Drug Discovery and Development 

By creating a plan to help this small business grow, students gained experience in entrepreneurship. The team produced a spreadsheet for Kraus Farms laying out different pathways to maximize profitability, providing the projected labor costs and profits of products and services. 

The project was created to benefit both Kraus Farms and the externs, taking full advantage of the team’s talents and energy. Each extern brought their own unique skill set and expertise, allowing them to learn from one another. 

group of externs, advisor and mentors in the woods
Team of externs alongside advisor Jay Goldring and mentors Joel and Cathy Kraus 

"The lead extern was amazing,” said Jay Goldring. “She was very good at finding people’s strengths.” Jay Goldring and Randi Fonseca served as externship advisors for the team. 

Estella Gomes, lead extern, graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 2021 with a degree in chemistry and a minor in brewing. She enrolled in the MBS degree with a concentration in Personal Care Science to pursue her longstanding dream of entering the personal care industry. 

Headshot of lead extern
Estella Gomes, Lead Extern

Gomes entered the Externship Exchange program because she wanted experience working on a team and researching personal care science. This was Gomes’ first time as team lead, and she strengthened her leadership skills immensely.   

Additionally, she and her team improved their communication skills, incorporating feedback and meeting the needs of Kraus Farms. 

After completing the externship, the Kraus family invited the externs and advisors to their farm. They prepared a brunch using farm-fresh ingredients, including eggs from their chickens, honey from their hives, and maple syrup tapped from their trees.  

After working virtually for so long to support the farm, externs were able to see it in person.  It’s not often that externs can visit premises in person—but when they can, the trips are always memorable.  

"The owners of the farm treated the externs almost like family,” said Goldring. “Working with [Joel and Cathy] was a pleasure. They were so appreciative.” 

Gomes shared advice for potential externs.   

“Keep an open mind,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s hard when you’re set on a project. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was open to any possibility, and I know some people might expect a certain company and a certain type of project. But always be open-minded. And understand that it can be fun and also rewarding.” 

To learn more about the MBS Externship Exchange program, visit our website. You can also attend an Externship Exchange program informational webinar.  

Author(s): Julianna Rossano Published on: 09/19/2023
Tags: MBS Externship Exchange