Bryant program connecting business students to jobs
'They know you can come in prepared on the first day.'
HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE: Bryant University students Alicia Kennedy, left, and Makena Sage with Gerald Cohen, standing, Chafee Center for International Business trade specialist, Madan Annavarjula, second from right, Bryant international business program director and David Marquis, president of ChemArt.
With just a few weeks to go until graduation, Bryant University senior Alicia Kennedy spoke with great relief about having wrapped up what many of her classmates – as well as other graduates across the nation – may be heavily fretting over.
She had accepted a job offer.
What led to her achievement? Kennedy said it was the school’s international business program – more specifically its senior-year practicum.
“To a future employer it looks fantastic. [They know] you can come in prepared on that first day,” said Kennedy. “The program itself is a differentiator but the capstone [the practicum] is the ability to have real-world work experience. That’s not something every university has.”
Bryant University’s international business program, launched in the mid-2000s, has since 2009 run the practicum as a capstone project that matches students in groups of three based on their background, strengths and the needs of participating companies.
Students work as consultants to help businesses with aspects of their international strategies.
Madan Annavarjula designed the course when he took over the program in spring 2007, after examining its curriculum and identifying a gap in the practical experience employers would be looking for in new hires.
“We found that one of the biggest challenges our students [would] face is to convince the employer that they can do the job,” he said.
In 2009, six companies hosted 18 students. This semester, 20 businesses signed on to work with Annavarjula’s 60 seniors.
Annavarjula said that of the group of 50 companies that he’s worked with over the last few years, all are launching or in the last stages of launching an international expansion.
“[The practicum] has tremendously helped the program image,” he said. “I [think] it’s a win-win situation because the students get valuable experience … and the employers get to see what they would bring to the table.”
Kennedy was one-third of a student group assigned to help ChemArt, a Lincoln-based manufacturer of custom metal keepsakes, including the White House Christmas ornament, in the last stage of its plans to launch in Mexico and Canada.
The company has taken practicum students since the program’s inception.
Saying he was daunted by the task of developing an international strategy, David Marquis, president of ChemArt and a Bryant alumnus, has had students do market research and this semester had Kennedy’s group focus on social media.