VBSR is collecting interest in working with University of Vermont SI-MBA students and alumni, which will be shared with these emerging leaders through a partnership with the University of Vermont Grossman School of Business. One of these opportunities is the Practicum Project.
About the SI-MBA Practicum Project
The University of Vermont SI-MBA program is an intensive one-year MBA program, including a capstone Practicum Project in which students engage in application-based problem solving during the final three months of the program (late May – late July).
The Practicum Project is an unpaid, full-time, hands-on, immersive experiential engagement with established companies/organizations or early-stage ventures (host organizations) that are focused on addressing the real-world challenges and opportunities associated with sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship. Each practicum project is typically completed by a team of 2-4 students, and all projects are designed to create mutual value for students and host organizations. Previous host organizations include Burton, Casella, SunCommon, Seventh Generation, and Ben & Jerry’s, as well as national and international brands. You can learn about current practicum projects here.
Interested in hosting a Practicum Project? Let us know!
- Sept/Oct: Practicum project ideas are submitted to UVM
- Second week of November: Final project proposals are submitted to UVM
- December: Student teams are paired with host organizations
- January: Kick-off meeting between student team and hosts
- Feb-May: Students and hosts refine scope and do background research
- Mid-May – end of July: Student teams work on projects full-time
Note that submission of a proposal does not mean you are guaranteed a student team. A number of proposals are developed so that students have a choice in which projects they are ultimately assigned to. However, if a project doesn’t move forward in one year it may be a project in the future.
Host Organization Commitment
Practicum projects begin with a brief project proposal developed collaboratively between the SI-MBA program and Host Organization, including the following elements:
- Project Title
- Name of the Host Organization
- Point Person(s) in Host Organization
- Background on Host Organization (1-2 paragraphs)
- Brief description of the Sustainable Innovation Challenge/Project (1-2 paragraphs)
- Travel Expectations
A good practicum project is one that is feasible (can be accomplished within the timeline), and meaningful (offers students the opportunity to apply their training and knowledge in a way that can have real impact). The project should be a “mutual value” proposition— valuable for both the student team (from a learning point of view) and the host organization (from a business point of view).
Ideally, practicum projects will either help initiate or give momentum to an important business initiative or strategy that the host organization would like to continue beyond the Practicum Project time frame. This would open the potential for continued engagement or even employment by the students after graduation in August. Such continued engagement can be facilitated through a Post- Graduate Consulting Project, which is described in detail in a separate document.
The final product (deliverable) for the practicum will depend on the scope and objectives of the project. UVM SI-MBA recommends a comprehensive and actionable business/action plan delivered to the Host Organization, the program Directors, and the faculty advisor(s) for each project. This may include a Written Report with an Executive Summary and a final Presentation Slide Deck, and/or other deliverables as agreed upon with the host. As students work with their host organizations and advisors to scope the project, they will come to a mutual agreement on expectations and deliverables.
Roles and Responsibilities For Host Organizations:
- Point Person. The Host is expected to assign at least one “point person” who takes responsibility for working with the student team and faculty advisor on the project.
- Access to Information. The Host is expected to provide full and timely access to information and people critical to the success of their practicums. This includes making the necessary introductions for field-based projects, and helping students make the necessary arrangements.
- Preliminary Meeting. We recommend that students and hosts first meet in December or January. This is an opportunity for hosts to provide a clear idea of what the goals and objectives of the project are and to set expectations regarding communication and access to information throughout the spring semester.
- Kickoff Presentation. These will take place in mid-May and are an opportunity for students to frame the project and work plan. The goal of this presentation is to further align on focus and scope. We recommend a follow up meeting for hosts to provide feedback and set expectations for the summer.
- Check-Ins. The Host agrees to participate in regular check-in calls or meetings with the students, as the project dictates, and (as needed) including the advisor to assess student progress.
- Expenses. The Host is expected to pay for any travel and/or living expenses for the students if the practicum project involves time and effort away from Burlington, Vermont. If the students are asked to bear any of the initial costs (e.g. paying for hotels and local expenses), they must be reimbursed for these expenses by the end of the practicum.
- Final Presentations. The host commits to being available for the Final Practicum Project Presentation on in late July. If circumstances allow, this will take place in person in Burlington, VT.
- Feedback: We ask that the Host Organization provide feedback throughout the process during regular check ins, as well as complete a brief on-line feedback form about the practicum project experience to help us to continue to improve the experience for students and hosts. We also ask that you schedule a debrief meeting with the student team in mid-August to close out the project and give feedback.
- Confidentiality. All students, faculty, and other representatives from Host Organizations who are present for the pitches and final reports will sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
Questions or need support?
- For questions about VBSR’s services in connecting VBSR members with SI-MBA talent, contact Roxanne Vought, VBSR Executive Director.
- For questions about the SI-MBA program, contact John Kim, UVM Grossman School of Business Graduate Programs Career Advisor.