Hisaoka Fellowship Program

The Hisaoka Fellowship Program is designed for first year Smith MBA students who are highly interested in entrepreneurial innovation and/or startups. The program is a partnership between the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Office of Career Services. In order to be selected as a Hisaoka Fellow, students must secure summer internships with VC- or angel-funded startups and early stage companies. Through the Hisaoka Fellowship program, startups benefit from increased access to Smith MBA talent. Students benefit from experience with the challenges of forming and growing new ventures. The Dingman Center provides each Hisaoka Fellow a $5,000 stipend to supplement students’ summer salaries. This presents an excellent opportunity for startups which otherwise may lack sufficient funds to compete for MBA interns.

Advantages of becoming a Hisaoka Fellow

  • Fellows will be awarded, at a minimum, a $5,000 matching scholarship to supplement the summer internship salary
  • Foster connections within and understanding of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • Will be promoted and supported by the Dingman Center within the Smith School, UMD and the startup community
  • Unique access to the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s programming and various internal and external events


  • This program is open to current first year Smith MBA students
  • Students must have a strong interest in entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial thinking, and/or working in an early stage company
  • Participation in entrepreneurial focused classes and past involvement with Dingman Center programming
  • Experience in or willingness to accept the untraditional startup work environment
  • Have received an offer from a startup

Roles & Responsibilities

  • Produce high level work and strongly represent the Dingman Center, the Smith School and the University of Maryland
  • Will commit to work during a typical summer internship time frame (early June to early/mid-August) negotiating any vacation dates with the company directly
  • Once designated a Fellow, students are expected to be frequently involved with the Dingman Center

What types of companies can participate in this program?

  • Firm must either have already raised some Angel or VC funding, be a Venture Capital (VC) firm or incubator, or have received grant funding of $500,000 or more
  • Non-profit startups are also eligible
  • Technology commercialization opportunities and incubators will also be considered
  • Self-funded firms will be considered in cases where angel or VC funding is being actively pursued
  • Must be recent startups: less than five years since inception (or since initial external capital, in the case of “ramp-ups” or “speed-ups”)
  • Must offer an approximately 10-week internship, starting in June and ending in August 2015, paying at least $5,000 total (i.e., $12.50/hour, full time)
  • The company is expected to expose the student to strategic decision-making aspects of the company’s operation

Application Process for Students

  • Student works independently (and with OCS and Dingman Center) to secure an internship offer
  • Student applies with offer letter, resume and cover letter explaining 1) why you want to become a Hisaoka Fellow, 2) how you will succeed in an entrepreneurial setting and 3) how this program will further your career goals (see links / contact info below)
  • Dingman Center responds within 48 hours to set up interview (if application qualifies)
  • Results of application review will be either Accept, Deny, or Waitlist

Contact Information & Forms 


2015 Fellows 

Lana Bronipolsky

Prior to starting her MBA at Smith, Lana spent 7 years in the financial services industry, most recently at PIMCO in Southern California. Originally from the DC metro area, Lana was excited to return to the area and through the Dingman Center participate in the local startup culture. At Smith, Lana has focused on entrepreneurial finance and is especially interested in financial technology. Her team was awarded first place in the Leadership Under Fire case competition and her team was runner up in the Venture Capital Investment Competition in November 2014 team. She is most interested in helping early stage companies raise capital, develop growth strategies, and run efficient operations. 

Summer Internship: MPOWER Financing 

Sumanth Jinagouda

Sumanth Jinagouda is passionate about products, technology and entrepreneurship. Prior to Smith, Sumanth worked as a Technology Consultant at Deloitte for 4 years. He has extensive experience in SAP and SAP-mobile consulting. Currently, Sumanth is working with Dingman Center to give shape and direction to his idea. 

Summer Internship: Living Social

Mike Mandl

Due to overwhelming demand among undergraduate students for startup internships, one of the Hisaoka Fellowships was offered to an undergraduate student, Mike Mandl. Mike is a UMD economics major who’s interested in up-and-coming technology with the potential to disrupt markets. He started his own profit-generating businesses through his landscaping and cell phone repair services, ProTech MD. Mike spent the past year creating virtual reality college campus tours and plans to find his niche in the market after graduation.

Summer Internship: YouVisit in New York City

Justin Taubman

Justin Taubman grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and studied Political Science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He began his career at the US Department of Homeland Security where he worked for seven years. Justin’s work focused on innovative security and customer service solutions for aviation security. In 2014, Justin resigned as Program Manager of Passenger Innovation to attend Smith and is focused on Entrepreneurial Finance. Justin currently serves as President of the Smith MBA Entrepreneurship Club. 

Summer Internship: FoodBAM

Gloria Zhang

Gloria Zhang is a first-year MBA student interested in marketing and data analytics. Before coming to Smith, Gloria Zhang worked at Louis Vuitton, China for two years as a Retail Operations Management Trainee. Her responsibilities included supervising after sales service, creating sales strategy, and optimizing merchandizing and inventory allocation. She also worked for China’s biggest animal shelter for a year. 

Summer Internship: Homesnap