April 2018 Archives

Hands-on learning

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Colleges and universities are increasingly instituting 'hands-on' work experience into the curricula.  This comes in the form of summer internships, work-study programs, and course work that incorporates time working with local companies.  This trend is perhaps greatest in business schools like the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. One allied program called the Tauber Institute is an interdisciplinary operations program between the business and engineering schools at the university.  Classes in the business school often pair teams of five students with a local startup or established business to work on marketing, finance and business issues.

It's definitely a win-win:  students work on real-world problems to hone their skills and perhaps get a leg up when they've graduated and are looking for a full-time position.  And businesses get the benefit of really sharp young students with insight into what young people are looking for in the modern marketplace. 

I photographed several of these collaborations for the business school in recent months, including at the Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Listening to members of the Whirlpool marketing team question the students about their take on current advertising programs, it was evident this mutli-national company was eager to pick the brains of these smart millennials. One startup company teamed with students was Nakee, maker of a new chocolate/peanut butter spread.  The gregarious, bearded owner invited the U of M team to visit his booth at Detroit's Eastern Market, and then his modest packing operation in the kitchen of a nearby restaurant.

Students end the semester's project with a presentation to the company's executives.

Other colleges within universities like U of M have their own programs, including Art & Design and Public Health.  Summer internship opportunities are a real draw for high school seniors deciding on a college to attend.

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