When venture capitalist Jesse Devitte is on the fence about a company that has sent him a proposal for funding, he asks himself one simple question. "Does it pass the Becca test?"

The Becca in question is Rebecca Nealis, an M.B.A. candidate at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics. The test, says Devitte, draws on a skill--call it a gift--that probably doesn't appear on the syllabus at any business school.

"At the end of the day, it's the things that don't end up on the spreadsheet that matter," says Devitte, a partner in Borealis Ventures in Concord, N.H. "The great thing about Rebecca is her intuitive grasp of people."

Nealis is part of a three-student team--including Dory Alport and Leonard Faucher--that participated in an innovative internship program called the Corporate Roundtable, which matches M.B.A.s and Management of Technology master's degree students with dozens of regional businesses.

For their internship at Borealis, the WSBE team decided that by screening business plans, they would meet their own desire to roll up their sleeves for credit, and also help Borealis, which receives a dozen plans every week.

In evaluating business plans, Nealis' task was to analyze the company's potential to compete on a national or global level. "A course in strategic management helped me assess the competitive position of a software firm with a product designed to compete with a major software giant," she says. Did the firm make the cut? That's confidential, of course. But if it did, rest assured it passed the Becca test. ~

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