College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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MBA Community Ties


by Sarah Small

Two MBA students are turning a class requirement into a community service project. Rebecca Motley and Kate Meghji are launching a project that they call “ILLINOIS MBA Non-Profit Outreach”, where they are working with MBA professors and local non-profits to develop a partnership between the two that will allow student to practice their professional skills on organizations that need the help.

In MBA courses, it is common to work on projects that feature business problems from fictional companies, but an emerging trend is for students to address the operational problems of real organizations, especially non-profits that do not have the money to hire professionals who can provide assistance, Motley said.

“We have to do (the projects) anyway,” Motley said, “why can’t we do them for non-profits that don’t have the money to pay for consultants?”

Although it is not uncommon for individual professors to develop class projects where the students provide services to non-profit organizations, Meghji and Motley are working to establish and organized partnership between MBA professors who have class projects and local organizations that need help.

“We contacted all of the business professors that are teaching MBA classes this semester, and we got about eight to ten organizations that need help with projects,” Motley said.

Three MBA Business Administration classes have signed on to work with eight non-profits this semester.

“This way the agency doesn’t have to do a lot,” Motley said. “The professor is overseeing the project and it’s better than volunteers because (the students) have to do it, because it’s their grade. It’s kind of a win-win situation for everyone.”

With their May graduation growing nearer and nearer, Motley said she and Meghji are unsure of the future for their fledgling project, but she said the hope is that someone will take up the cause and that it will become more established in the professional MBA program.

“We’re a little unsure about where it will go,” Motley said, “but we’ve got support from the department and from the students so we hope it will go well.”

UIUC College of Business