Business Owner, Professor Both Praise ASBTDC Real-World Classroom Experience

July 17th, 2017 by Gwen Green

A new business owner and a long-time professor both gave ASBTDC’s Real-World Classroom experience a thumbs-up this spring. 

“I absolutely loved working with the students,” said Jennifer Duckworth, who just opened Squizito Tasting Room, her premium olive oil and specialty food store, in January.

Squizito owner Jennifer Duckworth greets a customer

Squizito Tasting Room owner Jennifer Duckworth (left) greets a customer. UA Little Rock students worked with Duckworth on her marketing plan as part of a Real-World Classroom experience coordinated by ASBTDC.

“The ASBTDC has been very helpful in giving my students access to ‘real-world’ problems for my business consulting class. These consulting projects engage students in a way traditional business classes do not,” said Dr. Joe Felan.

ASBTDC coordinates collaborative learning opportunities for University of Arkansas at Little Rock students each fall and spring.

Students in Dr. Felan’s Business Consulting class (MGMT 4365) teamed up with Duckworth and other local small business owners to tackle challenges the owners face.

“I was nervous at first because I wasn’t really sure what to expect or how much of my time would be needed, and as a new business owner, time is everything,” said Duckworth. “However, after our initial meeting, they took the reins and ran with it. By the end of the semester, I was on Cloud 9 watching them present their findings.”

The student team of Brooke Shelnutt, Endrit Lushtaku, Blake Ward, and Katina Watson focused on marketing and gave Duckworth detailed recommendations to incorporate into her marketing plan.

“The students provided a multitude of good ideas and insights into social media marketing that I wouldn’t have ever known about if it weren’t for participating in this project,” she said. “I was very impressed with how in-depth they went to research my issues and present me with tangible solutions.”

Felan, a long-time UA Little Rock management professor, appreciated the opportunity for his students to get out of the classroom and into the community.

“I see students engage emotionally with their clients, as well as enhance [their] knowledge and skills,” he said. “Through these team projects, students must learn to work effectively together, developing a plan of action and utilizing the unique qualities of each team member. I also witness students apply and learn real-life leadership skills during the process. I believe these learning experiences are extremely valuable for my students.”

Each semester, ASBTDC recruits local businesses that match faculty needs and coordinates the project assignments.  All projects are free and confidential for the participating businesses. While working with ASBTDC client businesses, students can use the range of ASBTDC resources, such as valuable market research.

Central Arkansas businesses interested in participating in future projects may contact the center’s Blake Norman at wbnorman@ualr.edu or 501.683.7700.

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