Learning about business in the classroom has its merits, but hands on experience in the workforce is one lesson that can’t be taught sitting at a desk.
Eleven students enrolled in the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management class at UCCI spent the last semester as consultants to local businesses Art Solutions and Jackie Watersports.
The Student Consulting Programme is a collaborative effort between the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau and the University College that allows pupils to gain practical business experience in a structured environment. It is sponsored by Cayman National Bank and is in its 3rd semester.
The ten-week course is open to UCCI business students enrolled in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management and features a combination of in person visits, phone discussions and e-mail exchanges. Students submit an end of term report detailing the students’ business analysis and recommendations.
Jacqueline Ebanks, proprietor of Jackie Watersports, wanted to explore the effectiveness of social networking on small businesses while Darene and Tesia Scott of Art Solutions were interested in getting general suggestions for how they could improve and grow their business.
In the case of Jackie Watersports, the students created a web presence for her businesses on Facebook and through research determined that Twitter would not be a viable marketing option for her company at this time.
The team assigned to Art Solutions conducted a thorough SWOT analysis and gave recommendations based on their findings.
When both groups were asked what they learned, responses varied from the importance of documentation and effective communication to a resounding sentiment that ‘entrepreneurs have to be 100% dedicated and work twice as hard to be successful.’
Annette Murphy, the UCCI lecturer in charge of this course couldn’t agree more. ‘This hands-on approach gives the students the opportunity to appreciate the contribution of small businesses in their society’, she said. ‘They are able to appreciate the hard work and dedication that are crucial to make a business successful not from a mere textbook view, but from experiencing the realities of business. It also helps promote leadership and communication skills among the groups and builds teamwork.’
Dwene Ebanks, CIIB Business Advisor and coordinator of this programme commented on why his agency believes this programme is important. ‘The Cayman Islands Investment Bureau is pleased to be able to carry through with our goals for increased awareness and practical applications of entrepreneurial education. Our learning institutions are the gateways for good human capital development, one tenet of the broader goal of economic development.’
For more information on this programme and other small business initiatives, please call the CIIB at 945-0943 or email: [email protected].