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JMU student getting head start on career as an entrepreneur
A daring young man who wants to be a high flier

 Chase Leonard is learning on the job this year.
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Date published: 3/16/2010

Chase Leonard is a 21-year-old junior at James Madison University and a native of Stafford who wants to be a high flier. The business word is "entrepreneur." This summer he wants to paint your house. Someday, he dreams of owning the Washington Redskins.

"Well, that isn't going to happen," he said with a laugh. Still, he is a dedicated Redskins fan. "I love sports. Most of my friends sit around and play video games. I don't like to just sit around."

So he's majoring in sports management and minoring in business at JMU. "I'm very driven," he said.

Leonard has spent his summers (since he was at Stafford High School, Class of '07) working with a swimming pool company, as a lifeguard and supervising the pool area.

"I want to move on. It was not enough of a challenge," he said. "I don't want to sit in a pool chair all day."

Last fall a representative of College Works Painting, a national house-painting company, came to JMU, seeking to recruit college students as summer interns. Some 200 went through the interviewing stage, and 25 were invited to undergo the training.

College Works is a California-based company that trains and gives business support to college students in 18 states who work as summer intern managers of teams that paint private homes during the peak painting season.

Local managers, like Leonard, oversee teams that seek customers door-to-door, then follow up with potential customers, negotiate contracts and oversee the painters who do the jobs. Local managers who do well are often promoted and invited back. A fellow JMU student is now a district manager.

"Most people would probably agree that nothing can really take the place of a college education," Leonard points out in his flier. "Just as certain, however, is that any amount of schooling can never completely prepare a student for that first venture into the world of independent business."

"When I have a degree from JMU," Leonard said, "plus this actual practical experience, I intend to be more prepared than most graduates will be."

The students gain leadership and management experience, the company literature says, as well as adding to their resumes. Leonard expects to get 20-25 houses painted this spring and summer in the Fredericksburg area.

"Essentially, I'm running a painting company," he said.

He still has his enthusiasm for sports. His principal love is soccer, and he has played for traveling Stafford teams.

"I'm a sweeper"--usually the last defender protecting the goalie. "I like defense. I like the challenge of people coming at me with the ball."


Hugh Muir: 540/735-1975
Email: hmuir@freelancestar.com

En-tre-pre-neur, noun: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking greater than normal financial risks, and therefor, expecting greater than usual profits. Synonyms: enterpriser, tycoon, promoter, wheeler-dealer, go-getter, high flyer.