At Isenberg, we put a strong emphasis on hands-on "in-the-trenches" learning. Our practicum projects are uniquely challenging and ambitious, and cover a wide range of experiences, from developing business plans for start-up entrepreneurs to major projects in all areas for large global companies.
Students, participating in teams under the guidance of a faculty mentor, complete a semester-long team consulting project within a for-profit or not-for-profit organization. These projects involve real-time, complex issues of current interest to the organization's top leadership. Many students report the practicum to be the highlight of their MBA experience.
Team consulting projects for Isenberg's second-year MBA students challenge their adaptability as business problem solvers, notes Alan Robinson, Associate Dean of the School's Full-time MBA program. "The projects represent a difference in kind, not degree-both in sophistication and complexity," he observes. During the semester-long assignments, teams of three and four students tackle real-world problems for high-profile corporate clients like Toyota, General Electric, and Lego; medium size businesses and start-ups; and nonprofit community groups in human services and the arts. In 2012, MBA teams completed projects for ten clients.
"It's a sustained holistic experience where our students apply and integrate much of what they've learned at Isenberg in systems thinking about a client's business/organization," Robinson continues. "In other words, our students must determine through data gathering and hypothesis testing and revision what works strategically and culturally for all the stakeholders." While they meet periodically with faculty advisors, the teams, whenever possible, are essentially on their own. "The default is for them to do be agile and resourceful enough to do whatever it takes to figure things out," he remarks.