Hands-on Experiential Education Courses Unique to the CoB


The College of Business uniquely incorporates hands-on experiential education into three of its courses by pairing students with start-up or growth companies. These students see first-hand the initial decisions and groundwork that helps establish a thriving and successful business. Working hand-in-hand with company executives, students utilize knowledge gained from their group projects, case studies and classroom exercises and simulations, and apply this information to real-life situations.

Dan Moshavi, CoB Interim Dean, stresses the importance of these courses. "By providing our students with a variety of experiential learning opportunities, we help them develop both the confidence and competence necessary to successfully manage and compete in the business world."

The following three courses are examples of the College's unique hands-on experiential education.

ENTREPRENEURIAL EXPERIENCE The Entrepreneurial Experience class, MGMT 463, is the capstone course for the Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management minor through the Alderson Program in Entrepreneurship. Student groups assigned to each business work on projects that focus on specific business areas, based on company identified needs.

Many of the start-up businesses that participate in the Entrepreneurial Experience course and the Alderson Entrepreneur Program are referred by TechRanch, a Bozeman venture incubator serving entrepreneurs and investors. This partnership is truly unique, as the program is directly involved with both a business incubator and technology transfer organization.

This program's success can be measured by its national recognition, one of 19 entrepreneur programs recognized by the Small Business Administration in 2005 and again in 2007 for demonstrated market-based results.

Interest and involvement in this course since its inception has been extraordinary, with more than 250 students logging 9000-plus hours of pro bono consulting for participating companies through the College's Alderson Program in Entrepreneurship.

MANAGEMENT PRACTICUM MGMT 475, Management Practicum, is another course where students and businesses work together. The course gives students the opportunity to work with client companies. Each group must coordinate presentations, weekly meetings and regular communication with their client company.

Similar to MGMT 463 but without the entrepreneurial emphasis, the groups in MGMT 475 also work on a variety of projects such as developing operations manuals, marketing plans, business plans, metrics to identify sales targets in a geographic area, as well as employee satisfaction surveys, to name a few. Participating companies for the spring 2008 semester have included Pacific Equipment Corporation, InterMountain Opera and the MSU Bookstore.

Abby Olp commented on what she experienced in her MGMT 475 class: "I really enjoyed this class, and it has allowed me to talk about my experiences with potential employers. Because it is a more practical, hands-on class, I was able to apply my book knowledge and really demonstrate that I was able to handle work that lasted over a period of months, work with outside clients, demonstrate research capabilities, presentation skills, contracting skills and maintain client relationships."

MARKETING MIX DESIGN A third course, MKTG 447, presents emphasis on business marketing. The course is a non-textbook course, focusing on real-life applications of marketing academics. Students exercise their marketing skills with local companies by helping them research, develop and execute marketing strategies.

Working in teams, students build a relationship with their client, coordinate schedules with them and prepare marketing proposals as requested by the client. At the end of the semester, clients are brought into the classroom for a professional presentation and receive a bound proposal document.

The evaluations and comments from the clients involved in this course have been overwhelmingly positive. Recent clients have included local businesses such as Alpine Lawn Care, the Arts Council of Big Sky, Big Sky Premium Meats, Elle's Belles Cookies, ERA Landmark, Girls Outdoors, Gold's Gym, The Holiday Inn and Red Willow.

Experiential education assists College of Business students as they prepare for the professional world, helping them understand and apply their classroom experiences to real-world situations while they are still in school. Discovering their creative abilities while solving real business problems, students develop strong business communication skills and learn how to interact professionally with co-workers and clients, all while helping local businesses improve their company's performance.