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Students typically enroll in classes at the Monterey Institute hoping to gain knowledge and training that will help them in their future careers. They don’t necessarily expect to have a particular class lead directly to landing their first post-graduation job.

For six students in Professor Fredric Kropp’s entrepreneurship course over the past few years, though, that’s exactly what happened. As Professor Kropp explains, “Every term we match students up with entrepreneurs to work on real-life projects. Generally I network out through friends and acquaintances to identify potential projects; sometimes students also identify candidates. It’s a win-win situation. The students get real-life experience and the entrepreneurs get help solving their problems.”

Participating entrepreneurs also get a firsthand look at the capabilities of the students they are paired with, while students gain invaluable insight into every aspect of the business proposal or assessment they are working on. This can lead an entrepreneur to an entirely logical conclusion – why recruit strangers when you’re already well-acquainted with a high-quality candidate who knows your business inside and out?

“It was a great class,” said Hjalte Hojsgaard (MBA ’09).  “I worked with MarketCulture Strategies Inc., a management consulting business with offices in Pacific Grove, Boston, and Sydney, Australia. My group worked on substantiating a business case around a new online service offering that was to be launched in 2009. The most exciting part of the project was the direct contact with key decision makers.”

Hjalte also seized the opportunity to bring his qualifications to the attention of a potential employer.  “I ended up getting hired simply by writing the CEO of the company an e-mail after the project was completed, explaining the fit I saw between my skill set and the business. I made a proposal to them, and they accepted. I started as a business analyst but was promoted to engagement manager, working primarily on business development and client and project management for North America.”

Otto Hanson (MBA ’09) had a similar experience with even swifter results. “The project was a chance for me to test the entrepreneur's business model and for the business team to test my knowledge and abilities,” explained Otto. “Two days after we delivered our final presentation, I got a call from the entrepreneur stating that they wanted to hire me as their director of business development.”

Outcomes such as this undoubtedly contribute to the strong reputation of the Fisher International MBA Program, which Entrepreneur magazine and the Princeton Review recently once again ranked among the top 15 MBA programs in the country.

Still, even for students like Luke Smith (MBA ’09), who was hired on the basis of the project he did for marketing firm TMDcreative, the classroom experience was as important as the outcome.  “It was the real-life application of what we were learning in class that excited me most about taking the course. It was one of the first courses I took at MIIS, and it has remained one of the highlights of my educational experience.”

(Reprinted from the Winter 2010 issue of Communiqué)

For More Information

Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir