HAMMOND │ Textbooks are replaced by real life businesses in the Small Business Consulting class at Purdue University Calumet.
On Wednesday, two student teams in the class presented their consulting reports for the client companies they worked with – Produce Depot in St. John and Chicago Machinery Co. in Lansing.
Methods used by the student consulting groups for their clients included developing customer profiles, surveying and interviewing customers, developing a marketing strategy, and analyzing websites and social media.
Because the students may lack real-world experience, each group was assigned advisers who are local business owners.
“The field of consulting is growing very rapidly,” said Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Jamaluddin Husain. “It takes a different kind of a skill and art and science to be able to look at people’s situations and diagnose and correct it.”
James Chimitt was part of the student group that worked with Chicago Machinery. He said experiential learning classes like this one are helpful.
“It’s real-world experience and something I can actually put on my resume and take with me the extra skills I’ve learned,” he said.
Chicago Machinery Sales Manager Ron Croner said his company particularly asked the student consultants to help in areas as far as social media and the webpage.
“It’s a way to look at our business with new eyes,” he said.
Rachel Felton was part of the team that consulted for Produce Depot.
“I love that it’s hands-on,” she said. “Actual experience is a lot more memorable than just reading a book. It helps so much to solidify everything you learn. We’re doing actual consultant work.”
Mike and Rose Massaro own Produce Depot in St. John and Dyer and said the semester-long project is for them an opportunity to learn something new.
“They came to us and we were all for it,” Mike Massaro said. “They came to the store and talked to a lot of customers and kept us busy also.”