The Kelley Advantage
For 3/2 MBA and Master of Science in Accounting Students
Experience can be the best teacher, and our students have ample opportunity for hands-on learning. In the field consulting component of the our degrees, students work in small teams. These teams consult with local businesses and organizations from a variety of economic sectors to identify real business problems and implement solutions.
This article, which ran in Bloom Magazine in December 2010, provides insight into Lisa Lerner's field consulting experience as a student.
She already has two internships behind her, but Lisa Lerner, a fifth year student in the Kelley School of Business graduate accounting program, said it was while part of a field consulting team working with the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington that she had the opportunity to really test her skills. She also learned more about the role of nonprofit agencies in the community.
“Working with the Boys and Girls Club helped me get an understanding of what nonprofits do and how they are struggling,” Lerner said.
For 14 years, graduate accounting students in the Kelley School of Business have been working with area businesses and nonprofit agencies as unpaid consultants. The semester-long program gives students real-world experience and offers clients access to top accounting talent just on the verge of graduation.
“It’s a very selective program,” said Jim Grandorf, clinical professor of accounting and advisor to the student consulting groups. “These are exceptional students who, for the most part, don’t have a lot of practical work experience.”
BKD, one of the largest CPA firms in the country, recently analyzed services rendered to be worth $250,000 annually. Since the program’s inception, more than 200 area businesses and nonprofit agencies have participated.
“In recent years there has been an emphasis on nonprofits because they can always use help, but they can’t afford to pay a lot for consulting,” Grandorf said.
As for the quality of the work, Grandorf says client reaction has been positive.
Mike McAfee, executive director of the Monroe County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is one of those clients.
“The students are all just as professional as paid consultants, and they really believe in what they are doing,” McAfee said.
McAfee feels the field consulting program does more for Bloomington than just boost the bottom line.
“Every year you have twenty teams going into the community, working with community organizations, learning who they are and what they do,” McAfee said. “It has a tremendous impact on the students, the businesses they work with, and the community as a whole.”
Lerner’s experience with the Boys and Girls Club is proof of that.
“I’ve learned this is a vital place in the Bloomington community, a place where kids can be safe, have fun, and grow as individuals,” Lerner said. “As adults they’ll see what the community gave them and then it will be their turn to give something back.”