The Babson Model for Student Consulting

Guest post by Arline MacCormack, Associate Director for Experiential Programs, Babson

Babson, world renowned for entrepreneurship, is also a top contender for offering unique and valuable experiential opportunities for our students.  Our first-year students’ create, develop, launch, manage, and then liquidate a real venture on campus through our Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) integrated curriculum.  Students interested in investing may apply to our Babson College Fund course and have the opportunity to manage a portion of Babson’s endowment. Our Summer Venture Program, and Women Innovating Now Lab (WIN LAB) are other notable experiential opportunities but today I want to share our model for another unique program, Babson MCFE: our Management Consulting Field Experience Program.

Babson students are always looking for ways to learn more about an industry, organization, or career path. Babson MCFE offers students the opportunity to gain practical industry experience while working with professionals in the business community.​  In this program we connect organizations with talented Babson students who work as consultants to address a current business challenge. Students gain valuable experience while providing our partner organization with creativity, insights, and results.

Other schools also provide opportunities for students to consult for external organizations, so why is Babson’s program so special?  We use a unique model where our MBA students coach, mentor, and ultimately manage our Undergraduate student consulting teams.  MBA and Undergraduate Students seldom have the opportunity to work together, but at Babson, we have created two very different courses, integrated them, and are thrilled with the outcome!   Our Undergraduates have the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real challenges in real companies, and our MBA students are learning how to manage these diverse Undergraduate teams, provide developmental feedback, and develop their own unique management style.

MBA students meet weekly with Dr. Joseph Weintraub, co-author of The Coaching Manager , who provides direction and instruction on how to manage teams. The first half of the semester is focused on theory and practical skills. As the semester ramps up and the teams start facing challenges, we discuss what is going on in the groups.  Babson MCFE teams may be having trouble identifying resources, communicating with the client, or a team member’s engagement. By discussing these challenges in class, all can share and learn from the challenges of other teams.  In an effort to expose students to different management styles, MBA students are required to observe two of their classmate’s team meetings and have their meetings observed by two of their classmates over the course of the semester. Assessment is also a critical component of this course and we use a 360 tool included in our Edusourced software twice over the course of the semester to provide data.  MBA students review this data then have a one-on-one conversation with each team member and discuss each team member’s successes and areas for development.  Learning to provide constructive feedback is a critical component to becoming a successful manager.

We are currently under contract with Edward Elgar Publishing to write a How-To for faculty who would like to utilize our model.  Watch for the book late Spring – Summer 2020!