MSUM faculty are passionate about working with students, giving students numerous opportunities to connect with experiential learning, where they practice what they learn in the classroom with real-world projects.
While these connections occur daily across campus, several innovative educational practices are now available to students in the Paseka School of Business.
Center for Innovative Business Solutions
The Center for Innovative Business Solutions (CIBS) opened in January 2015 to provide consulting services for clients and real-world experience for students. Businesses that have identified a project work with student teams to find solutions and recommendations the business can implement.
“CIBS projects provide students the opportunity to work on project teams to apply their academic knowledge to real life business problems in real time; there isn’t a better way for students to learn how to function in a business environment,” said Dean Marsha Weber, College of Business and Innovation. “The experience and skills that students who participate in the CIBS projects will gain over the course of a semester will be invaluable as they begin their job search process and their careers.”
Specific skills students will gain include: project management, business communication, business presentations, team building, problem solving, leadership, networking and technical skills.
In all of the new offerings in the Paseka School of Business, faculty coaches guide, mentor and are a resource for students. They encourage students to think critically about business issues and to be creative problem solvers as they navigate challenging projects.
Students provide businesses with valuable research, fresh insights, and practical recommendations that can greatly impact business solutions, while the business professionals engage as role models to students.
These opportunities better prepare students for the business world by increasing their confidence, fine-tuning their skillset, receiving professional coaching and gaining practical experience to improve their employment marketability.
Students can get involved in experiential learning projects as early as their freshman year. Last fall, students in the Business Freshman Year Experience course ran “mini businesses,” such as bake sales, hot chocolate sales, games, and creating and selling crocheted scarves as a course project. Students were responsible for developing a business plan and reporting on their business. A donor provided seed money for the projects, and proceeds from the businesses went toward student scholarships. Seven students from the class received scholarships from the earnings for spring semester.
MSUM’s new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) certificate is a software system used by companies to manage their interactions with current and future customers. Courses are taught by industry professionals and MSUM faculty. Students who complete the program will have a unique skill set that is in high demand by employers across the nation.
Dragon Investment Fund
A new course offered by the Paseka School of Business, Portfolio Management Practicum, is designed to give students practical investment management experience. The Dragon Investment Fund (DIF) is an initiative to provide a realistic, high-quality, investing experience, where students invest and manage an actual monetary fund. This experience will enhance their opportunities for placement within prestigious business and financial organizations.
Students in the Paseka School of Business’s Entrepreneurship class are working with the MSUM Planetarium to develop a business/marketing plan, as well as working with other organizations.
“The Planetarium has never had a solid business plan. We would like the revenue generated from the facility to support a large fraction (two-thirds) of the personnel and programming costs,” said Linda Winkler, a professor in the Physics/Astronomy Department and a member of the Planetarium board. “We need a solid plan that will guide us to get to that position. I believe giving this project to business students will generate creative ideas as well as give business students a real-life problem to solve.”
“At the end of the semester, the Planetarium will be presented with eight marketing concepts complete with eight turnkey marketing plans,” said Kennan Meyer, professor of marketing and the entrepreneurship class mentor.
Entrepreneurship is offered as a minor for non-business students and is one of the fastest growing academic programs on campus. Enrollment for Entrepreneurial Marketing has nearly tripled from a year ago.
“What is more impressive is the diversity among students,” Meyer said. “(There are students) from film, music, communications, exercise science, criminal justice, biology, chemistry, math, and languages; there isn’t one discipline that cannot benefit from the course work.”
Faculty and students in the Paseka School of Business and the School of Communication and Journalism are collaborating to work with local businesses to conduct focus groups and to complete several research projects that culminate in a report communicating the results to the client and stakeholders.
“Hooray for MSUM students,” said Ruth Lumb, professor of marketing. “This is a very challenging project within the time frame. My students are very excited about this opportunity and have not complained once!”
Emily Stengrim, a senior public relations major from Elizabeth, Minn., is working on a project for an area golf course. She’s excited to help the course management develop an action plan.
“Knowing we can provide a solution for a real company who is trusting us to help them succeed, expand their consumer market, and help them become better, is something to be proud of,” she said. “Doing projects, such as this allows us to get a better understanding what we are working toward in our degree. We get a feel of what we might be doing after graduation, along with hand-on experience by researching, understanding consumers, working with a client and more.”
The Executive Mentorship Program pairs alumni and local business professionals with upper-level Paseka School of Business students. Mentors introduce networking opportunities that allow students to learn about a particular industry; acquaint students with the day-to-day responsibilities in a particular functional area or position; explore the probable culture fit with companies of interest; and advise students on how to develop into leaders in their chosen field.
One of the most telling comments from a former mentee sums it best: “I would by far say this was one of the great classes I took because it has helped significantly transition from college to career or the professional world.”
That’s when the power of transformation begins.