DEKALB, ILL – June 22, 2020 -- Northern Illinois University business students have been teaming up to consult on pressing business challenges and creating value for organizations for over 20 years. Given today’s uncertain business climate, the external perspectives, extra research horsepower, unbiased business recommendations and general business knowledge NIU students offer can be even more valuable. Businesses and non-profits can get help this fall or next spring by sponsoring an NIU College of Business Experiential Learning Center (ELC) or a Business in Action project.
“Our Experiential Learning Center and Business in Action consulting programs are cost-effective ways to extend your organization’s resources,” says Jason Gorham, Director of Business Consulting for the NIU College of Business. “Organizations often have a backlog of project work and challenges to address but limited time and resources. Our NIU students and consulting programs are a smart way to invest in moving your organization forward.”
Experiential Learning Center
The NIU College of Business ELC connects teams of NIU juniors, seniors and graduate students with organizations to address non-mission critical, cross functional business issues. Throughout the 16-week semester, each ELC team focuses on a single, complex business issue. Their work is guided by a faculty coach and assisted by an organizational sponsor. Teams apply the ELC project methodology, as well as the knowledge, skills and theories learned in the classroom, to each unique challenge. ELC teams have worked on a variety of business issues for a wide range of sponsors including Caterpillar, McDonald’s, Echo Global Logistics, Lakeshore Recycling Systems, the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago and Junior Achievement of Chicagoland.
Sponsors are quick to recognize the value ELC teams provide. “This was exceptionally well done. The students performed like true consultants,” shares Brad Helfand, Chief Operating Officer of Vous Vitamin LLC and sponsor of a spring 2020 project. “The students took time to understand our business model and presented really tangible recommendations.”
Business in Action
The NIU College of Business, Business in Action program connects our newest NIU students to organizations to address more defined business challenges. Through this program, sponsors work with College of Business staff to outline three to four discrete projects for a single sponsor. Multiple student teams work to address each project giving the organizational sponsor multiple perspectives on each issue. Teams are guided by a hands-on faculty member. Business in Action teams have helped early start-ups, small and local businesses, and established franchisees with sales and marketing channel assessment, formalization of accounting systems and report generation, pricing strategy analysis and using data to address staff underperformance among other business challenges.
Mark Malenchik, owner of Rock King LP and franchisee of nine Burger King stores, found the student insight extremely valuable. He was quick to recognize how their recommendations could help save Rock King LP money and reduce the cost variance in his stores. “The students’ training recommendations, employee retention strategies, and changes to the hiring process are at the top of my list and will be utilized,” he reported after the students presented their findings.
Benefits Beyond Project Work
In addition to addressing important business issues, ELC and Business in Action sponsorship offers a unique opportunity to build consumer and employment brands with NIU College of Business students. Throughout the 16-week semester, students will get to know their sponsors’ businesses, cultures and values. This deep connection can make all the difference as students search for internships, jobs, products and services later on.
“For some of our sponsors, the projects are 16-week interviews,” says Gorham. “Sponsors get to see students in action as they collaborate, communicate and solve problems. Many of these 16-week interviews have led to internships or full-time employment.”
To get more information or to submit a project idea, go to http://go.niu.edu/ProjectSponsor or contact Jason Gorham at (779) 702-1671 or email@example.com.
About the NIU College of Business
Founded in 1961, the Northern Illinois University College of Business has a distinguished tradition of transforming lives while preparing its graduates for long-term success in their careers and communities. NIU Business is fully committed to providing a student-centered education, one that is both innovative and relevant to the rapidly changing digital, global economy. Well-known for its entrepreneurial mindset, the college continues to earn accolades from leading publications and organizations for its ability to cross boundaries in the areas of knowledge generation, teaching and learning. The college and its various programs have been nationally ranked each year, most notably building on more than 30 years of national prestige as determined by U.S. News & World Report. Additional long-standing ranking citations for the college include those from BusinessWeek, CEO Magazine, Poets & Quants, and College Choice among other rankings. Today, the college proudly counts more than 60,000 of its graduates as alumni, many in C-suite executive positions in companies of all sizes, both in the Chicago metropolitan area and around the world. The school’s ongoing commitment to transform lives by crossing the boundaries of discovery and learning is further evidenced by its long-standing active executive advisory boards in every major, its expanding global presence and many partnerships in the greater Chicago region as well as globally, its 200-plus executive guest lecturers each semester, and its growing portfolio of experiential learning opportunities with businesses in the technology, information technology, engineering, financial services, and healthcare industries, as well as with NGOs and organizations in the non-profit space.