The stakes are high in Bryant’s Management 200: Principles and Practices class. Doing well isn’t only measured by a good grade, it’s about helping people in need.
The course, required for all Bryant sophomores, helps students turn theory into practice by pairing them with local nonprofits and putting them to work on real projects. Through that work, they gain knowledge and experience acting effectively and thinking decisively.
“Project management is important to every field, so it’s important that students learn these skills early,” says Associate Professor of Management Eileen Kwesiga, Ph.D. “This is a foundational course. They keep on building on the things they learn here and, by the time they’re seniors, they’re professionals.”
“Working with an organization you believe in makes the work feel a lot more rewarding,” says Abby Cassada ’21, whose team paired with the nonprofit Gotta Have Sole, which provides homeless youth with new shoes to help them feel confident, comfortable, and special, to develop an empowerment curriculum. “And being able to work directly on a project that affects people’s lives made it a lot more interesting.”
"We’d learn new concepts in classes and then we’d work on our projects and be able to say, ‘Oh! this is how you can use them.’"
A win-win situation
Emily Lancaster ’21 worked on a team with the nonprofit Community Preparatory School on a number of projects including building organizational strategies; developing marketing and outreach opportunities; securing donations of technology; and planning activities. It felt good to help, she says, but her group received a lot in return.
“We were able to learn so much from them and hone our skills,” she says. “We’d learn new concepts in classes and then we’d work on our projects and be able to say, ‘Oh! this is how you can use them.’”
“This is a win-win,” Kwesiga affirms. “Through the course we’re providing a skillset that most nonprofits don’t have access to and the students can work on real projects. I think this is one of the reasons Bryant is so highly regarded in the business world. We have great job placement and our students are well paid because they can hit the ground running.”
Working as a team
The students in the Operation Ironclad group worked with the Veterans Benefit Administration and the New Englanders Helping Our Veterans to help lead the effort to rebuild the home of a Korean War veteran. Their tasks included figuring out logistics, building community partnerships, and helping to raise more than $20,000 for the project. “It’s been really amazing to gain a real-world perspective on how we can use what we’ve learned,” says team leader Jack Cappeletti ’20. “It was also inspiring to see the community come together – everyone wanted to do something.”
“They really grow from this experience. Something changes in their demeanor, in their confidence.”
The project also gave the students opportunities to work on their teamwork skills. “With a project as big and as important as this, you need to create and be part of a high-functioning team – so we used what’ve learned to make that happen,” says Robert DuCharme ’21, who notes his team will continue to work with the nonprofit over the summer. “This project had a lot of moving parts, and we all used our strengths to play a role.”
The student’s efforts, says Jim Collins, President of New Englanders Helping Our Veterans, were greatly appreciated. “The students are fantastic, I’m so proud of them,” says Collins. “They’re young, but they’re learning great lessons and getting things done.”
The students learn more than practical lessons through the course, explains Kwesiga. “They really grow from this experience,” she says. “Something changes in their demeanor, in their confidence. We see it happen every semester, which is just so thrilling.”
“You really build a relationship with the people you’re helping. I don’t think my team will ever forget that.”
Lori Lowinger, Vice President of Gotta Have Sole, notes that she’s been working with Management 200 teams since 2011. “I keep coming back because of the students’ creativity, their commitment, and their education – their business smarts,” says Lowinger. “They add a lot of value to what we do.”
“It’s great to have the chance to go outside of the Bryant community and work with nonprofits,” says Zachary Allen ’21, who worked with Gotta Have Sole. “We get to make an impact.”
The Management 200 projects make an impact on the students as well, says Lowinger. “It enriches students’ lives to come into homeless shelters with us and see what we do. It opens their eyes.”
“You really build a relationship with the people you’re helping,” senior Lauren Rochefort ’20 remembers of her MGT 200 experience with Gotta Have Sole. “I don’t think my team will ever forget that.”