Performing market studies, analyzing financial data and brainstorming business solutions — even before they land their first jobs after graduation, students who take part in the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Student Consulting Program can report such impressive experiences on their resumes.
The consulting program, led by associate marketing professor Michael Tippins and associate management professor Ashay Desai of the College of Business, pairs local Fox Valley companies looking for creative business solutions with top UW Oshkosh students seeking to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom.
“The relationship between the businesses and the consulting students is mutually beneficial,” Tippins said. “The business gets confidential, useful advice from bright and energetic College of Business students, while the students gain hands-on business experience.”
Students in the program have consulted with a number of local businesses, including Biax FiberFilm, Habitat for Humanity, J. J. Keller & Associates, Miles Kimball and Oshkosh Corporation.
They have addressed such issues as how to improve business efficiency, increase management capabilities and grow current product markets.
“The final reports to the client companies typically offer several recommendations for unique courses of action. One of the biggest benefits of the program is that it provides area businesses with a fresh perspective by having top business students evaluate current opportunities and threats within various industries,” Tippins explained.
Kate Maly, of Antigo, a senior majoring in marketing and supply chain and operations management, worked with a group assigned to consult with ReStore, of Appleton, which sells new, gently used and salvaged building materials to benefit its parent store, the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.
The students worked to determine whether it was feasible for ReStore to open a second location in its service area, which includes Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties.
“Throughout the project, we have been able to take everything we ever learned from being in the College of Business and apply the knowledge. We have been exposed to the real world with this project, giving us a taste of what we will be entering upon graduation,” she said.
Senior marketing major Erin Donohoe, of Wauwatosa, worked with a team to find an effective way for Scion of Oshkosh to increase awareness among the dealership’s target Generation Y market.
“We held a scavenger hunt event and found that it really increased interest in students about the Scion,” she said. “We also found that the best way to attract students is to bring the event to them, rather than expecting them to travel far off campus.”
Donohoe said she learned about what it is like to work as a consultant. “It taught me how to be firm in requesting information, but also to be professional about it,” she said.
Both Donohoe and Maly are set to graduate Saturday, Dec. 13, during UW Oshkosh’s Midyear Commencement at the Kolf Sport Center.