DEANS OF BUSINESS

Giving business-student partnerships the old college try

Posted Sept. 30, 2011, at 3:44 p.m.

Whether a business or nonprofit, we know that any cooperative effort that results in lower costs, better performance or a competitive advantage is a WIN-WIN scenario. And if that partnership helps us have more experienced people, we will gain even more. Allow me to go back in time to life-changing experiences that exemplify the value of such partnerships.

The summer after graduating from high school I was an intern at a large advertising agency in New York City. Imagine being able to learn about this fascinating business from the inside. I had two jobs: one in the internal communications department, the other in the casting department. To be more specific, I would deliver important external and internal mail to account executives, the creative department, etc., and at periods during the day I would sub in at the casting department reception desk. Now the latter was a dream come true for a boy my age — yes, I met athletes, celebrities, models and other professionals. More importantly, the opportunity to observe, talk with account executives and others in managerial positions was incredible. By the time summer ended I had been exposed to all the functions in an advertising agency.

My second internship during my college years was with a major global technology leader working as a test administrator with the company’s psychologists in the human resources department. It encouraged me to complete a doctorate in management and organizational behavior. It actually provided me access to evaluate the Presidential Commission on Personnel Interchange. Imagine the learning experience of being in your 20s and meeting with the White House human resources director.

As my corporate career progressed, these experiences had an extraordinary influence on my performance, abilities and motivation. It paid off for me and for the companies I worked for over the years. It resulted in a multiple WIN-WIN-win scenario. While I have spent the last 18 years in higher education, the value of these experiences continues to influence many aspects of my job. These include advising students, developing relationships with corporations and nonprofits and fostering the cooperative efforts between you (business) and us (a college of business).

At Husson’s College of Business, we place a high priority on providing students with as many experiential learning opportunities as possible. Cooperative efforts in role playing, staging scenarios, team learning competition, an extensive “guest” lecture program, internships, executive development and tailored degree programs are some of the components of the program.

We reach out to industry and nonprofits with many WIN-WIN concepts and programs. Here are a few of the cooperative endeavors of the college.

• Internship Programs

Through this program students join your work force, receive hands-on experience and learn about your business while providing you an enthusiastic individual. Should you eventually end up hiring that individual (many companies do just that), you have a pretrained contributor who already has the benefit of knowledge of your organization. In essence, they are ready to go and to begin contributing in a productive manner.

• Internship Investment Bank

In conjunction with the internship program another WIN-WIN program is the Internship Investment Bank. Here, for each paid intern your business employs we provide deposit “shares” in an account in your organization’s name. These shares can be used to offset a portion of the tuition for an employee who wishes to pursue their MBA with us — the College of Business. By the way, the “bank” is run by our School of Accounting and the School of Business and Management students.

• Educational Partnership

There are many ways we can help you and the college in partnerships. For example, this week The Jackson Laboratory announced a unique partnership with the College of Business. We have teamed up to offer Jackson Laboratory employees (and other residents in the MDI area) an onsite/online MBA degree. Employees and island residents can take courses at the lab and/or online. The degree also contains a range of electives to meet specific interests beyond the core of the MBA.

• Executive and Continuing Education

Tailored executive development programs can be provided to your team once we know your needs. Also, many employees in Maine have received their education in our community college system and now are part of the work force or by necessity work to support a family. Consider a new program for these employees which allows them to receive a bachelor’s degree by completing the two years needed (beyond their associate degree) online, without having to give up their job. We call it our 2+2 Program.

• Center for Entrepreneurship and Small Business

If you have an idea you wish to explore or a business problem or issue you want to resolve, consider talking with us. We can help you to structure an approach and hopefully resolve the issue.

Colleges and universities seek to be partners with the corporate and nonprofit sectors. We recognize the value of the ultimate partnership and the potential of WIN-WIN endeavors. Let’s help each other, partner up — you and us — to meet needs and enrich students’ and employees’ lives.

Ronald Nykiel is dean of the College of Business at Husson University. He has served on a number of boards, and held management and executive positions with Nestle, Grand Met, Xerox and a number of hospitality-related corporations. He can be contacted at nykielr@husson.edu.

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