Field Study Course Puts MBA Students to Work for the Local Community

At the David Eccles School of Business, we believe in giving our students a world-class education. While we know the importance of having a strong theoretical foundation, we also know it’s just as important to roll up our sleeves and put our skills to practical use. We also know how important it is to reach out and help our local community. That’s why we created MBA 6800 “Integrative Experience.” In this field study course, students work with various local for-profit and nonprofit firms, aiding them in a variety of consulting projects.

MBA 6800 provides an opportunity for students to review, apply, and integrate major components of the MBA program. The typical format is a field study in which a team of MBA students consults with a local business or nonprofit on a significant issue facing that organization.

Impact on Students

These projects range from creating integrated business plans to putting together ethics criteria to social media strategies to developing pitch presentations. Students are able to interact with local business and community leaders and put the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to the test.

“This class was by far the experience that stretched my mind the most,” said Andrew Cummins, former MBA student and current project manager at inContact. “With most classes you have classwork or a test you take, but with this experience it’s your own skin in the game. It’s your own reputation. You feel the responsibility of representing your school and you want to do your best.”

A big emphasis of the course is teaching students the importance of building relationships with the local community and giving back.

“This field study made me more comfortable when I started my new job,” said Cassi Matthews, marketing analyst at Chargeback.com. “I learned what these types of relationships should look like. These projects gave me insight into something that was happening in our community that I had no idea about. I felt like I was able to make a difference.”

In this experience, students work in groups on two to three projects per semester. The class meets once a week to discuss challenges they are facing and potential solutions with their instructor, getting directed to the resources they need.

“In school, you get to sit in a safe environment and learn the theory. But you always wonder, ‘Am I going to make it in the real world?’” said Greg Larsen, former MBA student. “This experience taught me that I can. I was able to take the theory I learned in class and put it into action. You can only learn so much behind a desk with a textbook. When the rubber hits the road you need to see if you can make it. This experience taught me that I can make it.”

Value to Business and Community Partners

Students are not the only beneficiaries from this experience. The businesses and organizations they partner with also gain useful information and a different perspective from this exchange.

“These students provided valuable insights for how we could attract more attention to our website,” said Grant Fines, co-owner of Marsha’s Products. “We gained a good understanding of how analytics worked and how our site was performing. They gave us ideas for how to grow our business that we hadn’t thought of before. It was invaluable getting a different perspective.”

Using a unique approach, the school reaches out not only to for-profit ventures, but it also partners with nonprofit ventures, showing students the value of both approaches.

“I love the fact that the business school is involved in these real world experiences and involving the nonprofit sector,” said Rob Hartner, executive director of the Christian Center of Park City. “It’s gratifying to see the nonprofit sector treated as an equally valid approach to business. Kudos to the university for having the vision to do something like this.”

 

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