If you want to get ahead in business, there’s only so much you can learn from a book.
That’s why experiential learning is such an important part of Bentley’s core curriculum. Students work directly with corporate partners to solve real-world problems and develop a better understanding of the traditional business functions that are integrated into the workplace.
“One of my classes involved my team as acting as a consultant for a company,” says Hannah Krichmar ’20, a Marketing major from Andover, MA. “The company came to us with a problem or a goal they would like to achieve and we had to come up with a business plan that will achieve that goal.”
Students review key principles in accounting, business processes, finance, management, marketing and operations within the context of project management. They analyze the business problem, evaluate a set of alternative solutions, and present a program of recommendations to the sponsoring organization at the end of the semester. Krichmar’s team was paired with a local restaurant group.
“During the first session of class, the CEO came to speak to us about what he wanted to do with the business,” recalls Krichmar. “The professors also gave us presentations on general marketing, operations, and finance information that we would need to know for the project. Then we dove in.”
Real Companies, Real Problems to Solve
This particular class enables teams to analyze specific companies potential to introduce new goods or services, to bring existing goods and services to new markets, and to develop other growth opportunities, as well as present a business proposal.
“The course is divided into three assignments: marketing, operations, and finance,” says Krichmar. “We started with marketing and used that information to determine what the operational and financial plans would need to include. We also conducted research, analyzed it, and proposed solutions.”
Her team decided to focus mainly on advertising and promotional strategies, recommending that the restaurant increase their social media presence, start a few promotional campaigns and emphasize their involvement in the community. Based on these marketing tactics, Krichmar and her colleagues were able to come up with their operational and financial plans.
“Usually business case studies are hypothetical, but this class offers you the opportunity to help a real business improve,” she says. “The experience is something that sets Bentley students apart from other business students. I have been in interviews where I talked about this course and it is definitely something that interviewers are impressed with. By having this course, we get early exposure to real-world scenarios, which is extremely valuable.”
Besides the practical, hands-on business applications, Krichmar says she learned vital skills working on a diverse team, and stretched her skill set into areas she wouldn’t normally feel comfortable in.
“I developed a lot of communication skills,” she says. “In such a large project with so many different components, it was very important to have open communication within the group. I also learned to be more appreciative of the others’ work in my group. As a marketing major, I did not feel very prepared for the financial portion of the project, but it was great to see my group members who were more educated in that area excel in those parts, and I appreciated their willingness to help me through it.”
In the end, Krichmar got a better, more accurate picture of the challenges waiting for her in the business world, and of her strengths and weaknesses, critical lessons for a business student looking to succeed in today’s job market.
“Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses,” she says. “I have witnessed this in all of my group projects at Bentley but more so in this one than any other. Because this project has marketing, operational, and financial aspects to it, it is important to utilize each team member for what they do best.
“This is an important class because it really gives a holistic view of how a company operates. It pushed me to think more critically, and to find the areas that I really excel in.”