Practicum classes consistently rank among the highest at Scheller College of Business in terms of student satisfaction. This year’s spring practicums presented students with some especially complex, tough—and valuable real-world challenges.
“I would say the practicum experience was the perfect opportunity to apply what we have been learning in class to the real world,” explained evening MBA student Robin Hicks, who completed an IT practicum for reacHire.
“The entire practicum was extremely worthwhile and relevant,” added Jennifer Telling, who worked on a Business Analytics project for Home Depot. “Not only did we need to address how to pare down a huge dataset and analyze it but we also needed to determine when those results really mattered to the business and when they were less financially impactful. One of the most valuable parts of the course to me was learning to balance the raw results with their business implications.”
Practicums are likewise popular with companies looking to get to know Georgia Tech’s talented MBA and MSA students—and put their insights to use. Companies who sponsored a challenge this spring included global tech leaders Cox Automotive, The Home Depot, King & Spalding, NCR, thyssenkrupp Elevator, UPS, and Visa, as well as reacHire, a provider of cohort-based return-to-work programs and entrepreneur Yancy Riddle.
Approximately 40 Scheller graduate students participated in nine different IT and Business Analytics practicum challenges this spring.
Each team worked on the challenge all semester, with guidance from Professor Sri Narasimhan for the IT practicum and Professor Keith Werle for the Business Analytics practicum. Representatives from each company also worked with the students to explain the challenge, facilitate access to data and employees, and answer questions as needed.
“I think one of the most valuable aspects of the practicum was having the opportunity to interface with our client, the Chief Data Officer for a Fortune 150 company, on a frequent basis,” said Justin Haffad who worked on an IT practicum challenge for Visa.
The showcases were done separately, with each team presenting research results and recommendations to their sponsoring company through a power point presentation. Executives watched the presentations via Blue Jeans or Microsoft teams, then had the opportunity to ask questions.
“The Georgia Tech practicum students did an outstanding job identifying key opportunity areas in our website properties,” said Ivan Alvarez, NCR vice president, Big Data and Enterprise Analytics. “The ideas they brought to the table were powerful and helpful for NCR. We are already in the process of implementing key insights generated with deep data analytics and navigation analysis.”
Other executive teams were also happy with the student results.
“Such an outstanding effort, said Fahim Siddiqui, senior vice president, Information Technology at Home Depot. “We were very thankful for this team and their professionalism. They gave us some out-of-the-box thinking that we will definitely take under consideration.”
“The content of the presentation, including the long-term strategic plan was both interesting and valuable,” said ReacHire Project Manager Sarah Householder. “The team presented a road map to work with what we have and utilize it much more effectively. I’m excited to talk with our CEO about the ideas presented.”
Students who participated are quick to recommend practicums to others.
“I would unquestionably recommend this course,” said Chris Weekly who worked on an IT practicum project for NCR. “Especially if you are looking to change roles or expand your knowledge base beyond your previous experience, it’s a really valuable way to gain experience for interview questions or even to apply to your current role at your current company when looking at new or existing problems.”
Most of the showcases ran long as students and executives were eager to discuss the work completed.
“As I watched the showcases this year, I was impressed with the caliber of the work,” concluded Narasimhan, who supervised six IT practicums and also attended many of the business analytics practicum showcases. “Solving an applied business problem, especially from the outside, is tough. These students worked not just hard, but strategically, delivering thought-provoking, quality results to their client companies. They did a great job and represented Scheller/Georgia Tech well.”