Collaboration between the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business and the Clemson Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is lending a much-needed hand to Upstate small businesses through a recently launched student research center.
The SBDC’s Student Consultant Center employs business school interns through the University Internship/Co-op (UPIC) Program to assist small business clients with research needs. The experiential learning opportunity for students will expand SBDC’s ability to provide its clients with business intelligence and market research services.
“The Small Business Development Center provides professional guidance to small business owners, and the addition of the Student Consultant Center is going to benefit clients and student interns alike,” said Ezgi Ferrand, consultant center coordinator and lead market research specialist. “These students are providing much-needed market research help and are already reducing the waiting time for our clients’ research needs in the Upstate counties our office covers.”
Five undergraduate and two graduate students with the Student Consultant Center undergo a four-week training program in market research and business intelligence report writing before working with the center’s clients. They come out with real-world experience in looking at a business holistically.
Students are exposed to a business in its entirety and learn how to put their research into practice. Working in teams of two, the students conduct research including creating competitive intelligence reports, SWOT analyses, marketing strategies, and helping identify local market size and target markets for the clients.
David Raad, founder and owner of Six & Twenty Distillery in Powdersville, is one satisfied client of the students’ efforts. He said the material they provided his business and the “blind spots they uncovered” demonstrated a depth of knowledge that wasn’t characteristic of entrepreneurs, let alone students.
Student interns from management, finance, marketing and economics are appreciative of the experiential learning opportunity the Student Consultant Center is providing them.
“As an SBDC intern, I have been able to gain valuable work experience, explore a different career path and network with professionals in the field,” said Allayah Simmons, a senior management information systems major. “It’s been a real benefit to my Clemson experience.”
Ferrand said even in its early stages, the Student Consultant Center has shown to be a win-win-win for the students, their clients and the SBDC consultants.
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