Working With Students….Who Me?

Ever wondered how to infuse new life into your business?   Or maybe it’s time for a complete makeover.   Imagine being able to do all of the above (and more), without having to hit your already strained budget.

Sounds too good to be true?  Here’s how….

The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center (RISBDC) located at Johnson & Wales University (JWU) is one of a handful of SBDC’s in the nation that employs a student engagement model providing experiential learning and professional development opportunities for students along with no-cost resources for small businesses.

The RISBDC infuses real-work experience with classroom instruction.  Through the RISBDC Business Resource Center (BRC), student employees work one-on-one with clients and regional directors to create specific, limited-scope deliverables.  Projects range from graphic design and web site development to market research and SWOT analyses. Entire classes work with clients on assignments led by JWU faculty members, enabling students to earn credit for their work.  _ Other student engagement opportunities include  projects where  students    produce  results in the form of brand marketing, social media plans, research reports or other type of deliverable.

Jean Phillips can attest to the value of student engagement.  After losing her job, Jean wondered if she had what it took to start her own business.   She had earned a Baking & Pastry Arts degree from JWU some years ago.  After many discussions and a lot of homework, Jean decided to take the plunge and start her own bakery.  In December 2011, Decadent Designs opened.

Shortly after, Jean heard about the resources provided by the RISBDC.   She spoke with Regional Director Doug Jobling about her new venture and requested help creating a web site.  Jean visited the RISBDC and met JWU technology student Adam Ropic to discuss getting her business online.  Adam designed a business card for Jean and began the layout for her site.   The result is

“Adam did a wonderful job working with me to develop my web site and helping me with new technology.  Thanks to all the phenomenal people at the RISBDC,” said Jean.

Like Jean, you can take advantage of these incredible resources.   Clients benefit from engaging students in a variety of limited scope projects with a referral from one of our regional directors.  An initial assessment of client needs may result in a connection to students and faculty where the business’ needs fit curriculum outcomes such as:

•            Informational Web Site Development

•            Graphic Design

•            Market Research

•            Social Media

•            Financial Analysis

Not only do our clients walk away with great deliverables, but our students gain real-world experience. You have allowed future entrepreneurs a glimpse into the world of entrepreneurship and helped them create a more substantive and competitive portfolio.  Plus, you’ve shared your successes and challenges with students who will soon enter the workforce.


For more information about RISBDC programs and services, visit our Web site at or contact the lead center at (401) 598-2702.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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