Many entrepreneurs believe that, regardless of formal education,
there is no substitute for on-the-job learning. The Entrepreneurial
Experience (BMGT 463 at Montana State University's Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship, JJCBE)
offers students real-world entrepreneurial experiences in projects
assisting start-up companies. As a client company of these student-consultants,
your business can have a student team (likely two members), which
takes on a specific challenge in your business and brings knowledge
from this course and other business education to bear on it for
a period of 13 weeks. Students receive three hours of academic credit
for the course and no monetary compensation for their work. The client
receives free labor focused on the issue of its choosing, resulting
in a deliverable which summarizes findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
Check out this interview of a student and local business owner who participated in one of the consulting courses:
While the specific focus of the project undertaken by the student-consultants
depends on the pressing issues of your business, the course is an
opportunity for students to learn methods and processes for:
· Gathering qualitative and quantitative information;
· Scoping and estimating work and creating and executing project plans;
· Practicing sound project management; and
· Delivering and communicating professional-quality work.
Companies that have participated in the Entrepreneurial Experience
course include EnviroZyme, Golden Helix, Inc., InfoGears, LigoCyte
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., RightNow Technologies, TEXBase, Inc., and
PrintingForLess.com. Historically, engaging the students quickly
in the client company produces better outcomes. The more that clients
can commit to spending time during the first three weeks of the
course with students, helping them to understand the issues facing
the business and the expectations for the content and quality of
their work, the more likely it will be that they will receive deliverables
imminently useful to their business. Candor in expressions of expectations
and feedback throughout the engagement will help to develop the
students and will be welcomed by the professor.
The content and direction of the project depends primarily on the client company's initial identification of needs. We encourage clients to identify a specific, meaningful challenge or gap in business strategy or operations that can benefit from research (primary or secondary) and exercise of basic business skills. In previous semesters, students have investigated competitors' advertising and marketing behaviors, created customer databases, researched regulatory issues, identified and validated markets for new products, and compiled intelligence on companies as potential partners for bringing new technologies to market. Results from previous projects have been incorporated into client-companies' marketing materials, commercialization plans, funding proposals, and conference presentations.
The Students of BMGT 463:
Students in The Entrepreneurial Experience are usually undergraduate seniors who have chosen to minor in Entrepreneurship and Small Business with a major concentration in marketing, accounting, finance, or management. Also students from other MSU colleges, e.g., Engineering, Agriculture, and Arts and Architecture sometimes enroll in the course. Students possess basic business education, including familiarity with financial reports, marketing and financial concepts and tools, and customary approaches to research and analysis. You can expect students to work four to six hours each week on the project. The application is available as a fillable PDF file here.
Students in The Management Experience are also usually undergraduate seniors. The course is similar to that of BMGT 463. Teams do major project such as substantive community service project, research paper, small business experience case, business plan, or strategic analysis. Practical experience with project and/or team management where performance is measured by delivered product. No credit for previous experience.
Student Entrepreneurs in Action (SEA):
The JJCBE has recently approved and launched new program, Student Entrepreneurs in Action (SEA). Local businesses and organizations can now apply for a college intern from the SEA program to work with them from 10-20 hours weekly, at no cost to the business or organization.