HSU Center Supports ‘Business Beyond the Classroom’

August 1st, 2017 by Brandon Horvath

Being based at a university brings many benefits to the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. One of the most rewarding benefits is the opportunity to partner students of the university with small business clients to provide high-impact learning experiences.

During the fall 2016 semester, the ASBTDC at Henderson State University collaborated with Ms. Debbie Francis, instructor of marketing at HSU, to bring a new learning experience to her students.

Students in Francis’ retail management courses on the Arkadelphia and Hot Springs campuses worked alongside the owners of four retail businesses to analyze their current operations and offer suggestions for improvements. The students then presented their findings and provided marketing materials that were ready to be implemented immediately.

“The partnership between my retailing students and the ASBTDC small business clients provided a ‘Business Beyond The Classroom’ opportunity for the Henderson State University students. From the initial interview with the client until the final report and presentation were given to the client, the students are actively learning—and more importantly, gaining confidence in their abilities,” stated Francis.

The students also enjoy seeing their hard work make a difference in the life of a business.

Evan Rourke, an undergraduate marketing student who assisted an Arkadelphia retailer, said, “The high-impact learning experience helped us work as a team and also use what we learned in class. [This project] gave us hands-on experience in working with a real business.”

The experience also paints a picture of life after college for students who participate.

“Without the high-impact learning experience at Henderson State, I would not have propelled myself into the successful marketer I am today. Whether it be through intensive writing courses, collaborative assignments and projects, or research, it has all been very beneficial post-graduation,” said Zac Blann, who was a senior when he participated.

The HSU ASBTDC will continue to provide high-impact learning experiences for students at Henderson State University. Brandon Horvath, who coordinates these efforts with HSU faculty, believes the projects are a win-win.

“The business owners we work with get just as excited as the students do when we invite them to participate in a high impact learning experience. They welcome the insight and recommendations and feel honored that the students invest time and effort into their business,” said Horvath.

For more information on participating in a high-impact learning experience, contact Brandon Horvath at 870.230.5235 or horvatb@hsu.edu.

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