From creating strategic plans for local businesses to developing micro-lending opportunities for families in Cambodia, Defiance College business students are using skills they have learned in their courses to address real-world situations.
Studying in a learning atmosphere based in the liberal arts, Defiance College students develop skills in leadership, communication, critical thinking, and moral reasoning. Integrated with their academic coursework, these aptitudes prepare students to be competitive in the job market. The goal is to take what's been learned through coursework out into the community.
“The value is the application of their knowledge in the real world of business,” says Dr. Wayne Buchanan, associate professor of business administration. “They get to make a direct impact on the business or organization they are working with.”
Senior business majors must complete a capstone course which applies what has been learned in previous courses to realistic business situations. Business strategies, policy-making, and management philosophy are developed by means of case studies of actual companies including for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
Recent capstone projects have included preparation of strategic plans for businesses such as a local radio station, manufacturing plant, bank, and electronics store. Student teams have also developed marketing plans for a coffee shop, carry-out, cleaning service, and clothing store.
“The company gets the benefit of some quasi-professional advice at no cost, and we get to close the loop of learning,” says Buchanan.
Throughout the students' coursework, “we talk about the theoretical aspects, and then we get to apply it with a business or organization,” he adds.
According to Dr. Michael Gallagher, associate professor of accounting, for several years accounting students have prepared taxes for low-income residents, either through an IRS-sponsored program or a grant awarded by the American Association of Retired People. In addition, tax preparation and financial planning will be offered this year through the Ohio Benefits Bank, a program offering a variety of services free of cost to low- to moderate-income families and the unemployed.
For students looking for experiences beyond their regular coursework, the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity offers opportunities to do faculty-led undergraduate research and service in intensive year-long projects. In recent years, business students have conducted projects in Ireland, Jamaica, Israel and Cambodia. These efforts have ranged from developing micro-lending projects to enabling women to work from their homes as independent seamstresses in Cambodia.
Internships and work-study positions also provide valuable opportunities for students to apply their knowledge by working with practicing professionals. Students have interned in a wide array of local offices including nonprofit organizations, manufacturing plants, accounting firms, economic development offices, and retail offices.
New to the Defiance College campus this spring will be a Partnership for Jobs student employment initiative that will fund up to 2,000 hours of community work for qualifying students. Those in the program will work at community-based non-profits as well as qualifying local small businesses with the college helping to defray a portion of the students' salary.
The program will be administered through the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity as part of its commitment to assist economic development in the local community. Community-based non-profits will be able to apply for student assistance with specific projects which offer educational advantages for the students as well as a community benefit.
Tim Small, Defiance Area Chamber of Commerce president, lauds the program's innovation as it relates to assisting select small businesses. “Supporting our area small businesses in this way together with local non-profit organizations sends a real signal about the commitment of the College and DC President Mark Gordon to actively assist in job creation in our community,” he said.