Bryant University’s International Business Practicum prepares students for the business world by matching them with companies interested in expanding their business into new areas. The students serve as consultants for real-world clients, identifying opportunities and developing market entry and expansion strategies by using the team building, foreign language, analytical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills they’ve developed at Bryant.
The projects vary according to the needs of the business, from helping Hanna Instruments break into the Russian market, to identifying applications for smart textile firm Propel LLC's damage-resistant Steam Suit, to investigating emerging "blockchain" technology for jewelry manufacturer and marketer Richline Group.
"The students have learned the theory in the classroom. ... With this course we say 'Now let's do it for real.'"
"The practicum becomes an actual consulting firm," says Associate Professor of Finance and International Business Program Coordinator Andrez Ramirez, Ph.D. "The students have learned the theory in the classroom and how to apply it through internships and simulations. With this course we say 'Now let’s do it for real.'"
"We get to work with real clients in ways that will actually affect their businesses," says Noah Hale '18, who helped Guill Tool and Engineering explore expansion into China. "It gives you a really strong footing in the business world while you're still in college."
Learning from the best
In addition to Professor Ramirez, the students receive personalized guidance from experienced professionals versed in international business. In preparation for their final client presentations, the teams shared their work with Chairman and CEO of Armstrong Global Investments Jerry Weinstein and Jonathan D. Fain, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Teknor Apex, an international custom compounder with locations around the world. The business leaders offered advice on both the content of their proposals and their presentation skills.
"The experience the students get ... helps them understand what businesses actually need and how they actually think."
"I'm jealous of you all," Fain told the students at the end of the session. "I look at the work you've done here and it makes me wish I was back in college. I'm thrilled to be here and to be able to talk to the workforce of tomorrow."
"The experience the students get from this program gives them a look into their future," says Fain. "It helps them understand what businesses actually need and how they actually think."
Sharing their experience
At the end of the semester the teams present their work to a panel of judges, drawn from industry leaders, and compete for awards.
"As judges I think we get as much out of it as the presenters do. I've learned a lot today," says Steve Perry, Senior Vice President at Darlington Fabrics. "My company has done practicum projects with Bryant students in the past and they work incredibly hard. They're very focused and very knowledgeable and it's important to them that they please the customer. They do fantastic work."