According to a January 2018 blog post by LinkedIn Learning, 2,000 employers surveyed report the top three skills they seek in new employees are:
- Leadership, especially leading without formal authority and the ability to think strategically.
- Communication, including the ability to speak and write with confidence, influence others, and give and receive feedback.
- Collaboration, especially effective listening and good relationship-building skills.
At Marian University, junior and seniors from all majors have been getting hands-on, project-based experience developing these skills thanks to a unique course that’s been offered for nearly 15 years.
“While it’s housed in the Byrum School of Business, the course is really an interdisciplinary exercise in project management, collaboration, communication, entrepreneurship, and creativity,” reports Robert Schuttler, professor of business and economics. “Some of Marian’s top students participate each semester.”
Admission to BUS 325 (Student Consulting: The A-Team) is selective. Students submit an application in which they identify the personal skills and strengths they can bring to an A-Team. They must also have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Students who make the cut spend 15 weeks consulting with clients from small businesses, start-up companies, civic organizations, municipal government agencies, corporate enterprises, and nonprofit groups.
Their task is to develop creative, affordable, and value-added solutions to client challenges and opportunities. The students offer fresh perspectives, employ cross-functional approaches to problem-solving based on what they’ve learned in the classroom, and produce tangible deliverables that could have a lasting impact on long-term growth and bottom-line profitability.
Examples of past deliverables include market research studies, searchable databases, employee training materials, product pricing studies, sales and support strategies, financial plans with revenue models, and go-to-market plans for launching new products.
What’s the impact on student learning? Schuttler says BUS 325 enables students to:
- Explore the unique characteristics, attributes, and contributions of client organizations.
- Strengthen their strategic thinking skills in a complex, challenging environment that is new to them.
- Evaluate and critique client operations with an eye toward improving efficiency and effectiveness.
- Practice good leadership and organizational skills by establishing priorities, setting realistic expectations, completing objectives as a team, and meeting due dates.
Students accepted for BUS 325 participate in a weekend workshop before the course begins. They learn about professional attire, business etiquette, and tips for effectively sharing their ideas and opinions during meetings.
BUS 325 students also play an active role in choosing the organization with whom they will work. Representatives from each organization come to campus for an interview with students. Schuttler says having students choose their client based on their own interests and goals adds relevance and authenticity to their experience.
To date, more than 260 Marian University students have produced deliverables for over 60 clients including:
- Goodwill Industries of Central and Southern Indiana
- City of Indianapolis
- YMCA of Greater Indianapolis
- Sun King Brewing
- Town of Speedway
- Advantage Health Solutions
- Noble of Indiana
- Fast Times Indoor Carting
- Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
- U.S. Water Polo Association
- Galvin Creative Technologies
- Indianapolis Civic Theatre
During the semester, each A-Team meets with Schuttler weekly to report on their progress, ask questions, get feedback and guidance, and discuss any problems or concerns.
At the end of the semester, each A-Team concludes the course with a presentation to client and university leaders. Grades are dependent on the degree that team recommendations and deliverables add real value to the client company.
For more information about BUS 325, contact Professor Robert Schuttler at 317.955.6038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.