Center for Business Outreach
Experiential projects allow our students to utilize the skills they acquire in the classroom, offering research and solutions that help business owners expand their reach. Students develop business plans, marketing strategies, customer surveys, cost analyses and more – all culminating in a presentation or report that offers recommendations and resources.
Leads are generated through networking, referrals, alumni, city/state agencies and an online interest form. Prospective entrepreneurs, business owners and organizational leaders receive a welcome letter via email that contains expectations and next steps. Follow-up phone calls, emails and meetings may be scheduled to ensure that all parties understand and agree to the process.
All projects must meet curriculum requirements for Department of Business and Economics courses. Projects that do not meet these criteria are referred to internship supervisors, the Office of Career Development, the Center for Community Engagement and Service or another appropriate department.
Types of Projects
Business planning: Business owners who are interested in collaborating with students enrolled in our capstone business planning course are invited to attend the first class meeting and give a five-minute elevator pitch. Each student team chooses a business and follows up in 1-2 weeks. Please note that not all businesses are selected, and some may be referred to another course or department where applicable.
These projects culminate in a final presentation with community and alumni panelists who review the plans and provide feedback. Business owners are invited to attend and may bring a guest.
Economic impact studies: Our econometrics course is available to large organizations for economic impact studies. An intake meeting is held to discuss collaboration, information needed, goals of the stakeholders and potential database fees. If all parties agree, organizational leaders attend a class to meet the students, explain their program, offer relevant resources and answer questions. Students may conduct initial research prior to this class meeting.
These projects culminate in a final presentation, which may be in-person or virtual depending on the stakeholder’s location. Guests and media may also be invited to attend.
Other projects: Companies and organizations that would like to collaborate with students in other courses work with center staff to determine whether their intended project fits the curriculum. Business owners may be asked to share company information so students can develop a comprehensive plan or report. If this information is not available, students may collect data for primary/secondary research and visit similar organizations in order to complete assignments and final projects.
Policies and Procedures
- Student and employer interaction differs between courses and teams, and depends on project scope, research to be conducted and information needed. Time is of the essence, as students have homework assignments for each phase of the project. Timeframe and expectations are discussed at the beginning of the project.
- Teams that work with existing businesses keep timesheets throughout the semester and receive a certificate of recognition. Students are encouraged to include this experience on their resume, with permission to use the company name.
- All business planning students sign a confidentiality form. They talk to other business owners, CPAs, realtors, lawyers, competitors and alumni to gain information about best practices, lessons learned and general feasibility advice. Panelists who participate in the final presentations also sign a confidentiality form.
- All companies receive an electronic copy of the final project/plan. Entrepreneurs and panelists may also receive a survey link after final presentations. Data and suggestions are shared with department faculty.