For more than half a decade, students in senior instructor of management Beth Hjelm’s business strategy and planning course have taken on real-world consulting projects for businesses and organizations in Oregon and beyond. As they work in teams on their consulting projects, the seniors bring together everything they’ve learned in their time at the Lundquist College and apply their business knowledge to creating solutions for their clients. Students wrap up the term by presenting their work to clients, who attend either in-person or via videoconference.
Very often students have the satisfaction of seeing some or all of their ideas implemented by the organization for which they worked—and quickly, too. A recent client—the City of Lakeside, Oregon—has already put into action ideas for increasing tourism provided by student consultants just a little more than a year ago.
This winter, students from the college’s Business Honors Program worked on projects for Soft Peaks Cakery, a custom cake-creation business based in Lane County; the Oregon Cheese Guild: Tec Labs, a pharmaceutical company based in Salem, Oregon; and the Portland Timbers. Students working on the Soft Peaks Cakery project determined which of several possibilities for expansion made the most sense and then created a detailed marketing plan for the business. For Taylor Dyer ’15—a member of the Soft Peaks Cakery team—having a real client made the project a standout.
“Getting to know our client and her passion for the business really motivated us to do the best work we could do and produce something that would ultimately help her expand her business,” she said. “We had someone counting on our research and suggestions. which pushed us to do more than an ordinary case study project would.”
Three groups of students worked on projects for the Oregon Cheese Guild, with one tackling an updated marketing plan while the other two provided recommendations for improving the guild’s distribution model. The students' work for the Portland Timbers and Tec Labs remains under wraps because both projects included nondisclosure agreements. According to Tori Hamilton '15, the opportunity to present her work to a client—in her case, the Oregon Cheese Guild—was especially rewarding.
"The clients are extremely grateful for your advice, which brings the class project to life and makes it a more personal journey," she said.
This past term marked the last time—for now, at least—that Hjelm will offer real-life projects for students as part of her course. Not to worry: opportunities for students to work on real-world projects will continue—and even expand. The college's newly launched Oregon Business Consulting Group (OBCG) offers students a platform for working for paying clients on projects that last longer than a single term.
Find Out More about OBCG