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The Accounting Student to Business Initiative: From Students to Consultants


Renae Anderson, Ben Brumm, and Dave Mathewson.  
Accounting Student to Business Initiative team members (l-r) Renae Anderson, Ben Brumm, and Dave Mathewson.
 
   

Smart businesses around the Twin Ports are turning to the Center for Economic Development and the Accounting Student to Business Initiative (SBI) to get detailed financial analysis at a low cost. The Accounting SBI program pairs businesses with accounting students from UMD's Labovitz School of Business and Economics.

“The Accounting SBI links academia with the business world,” Instructor Loren Erickson said. “The students go from students to consultants. They can feel very empowered discovering how much they have learned in their classes and how it applies to an actual business.”

The students in Erickson’s class were divided into teams of three. Because one business had to drop out, two teams were assigned to Continental Ski & Bike, which meant that the Duluth retail business received twice the insights. One team consisted of team leader Ben Brumm, Renae Anderson, and Dave Mathewson. The other team consisted of team leader Luke Suchy, Hannah Tollefson, and Kevin Younghans.

Bill Howard, owner of Continental Ski & Bike, was happy to be a part of the student’s learning experience. “It’s great for the students to get some hands-on experience, which is difficult to come by.”

Both teams enjoyed the process. “Putting what we’ve learned into a real world example was great,” Mathewson said. “Analyzing data, I learned a lot. I was able to see where things were going well and where they need improvement,” said Tollefson.

A semester’s worth of work culminated in a presentation to Howard and Andre Watt, store manager, as well as Elaine Hansen, CED director; Sandi Larson, CED program/project specialist; Richard E. Braun, CED assistant director; and Erickson. Both teams provided their clients with a detailed written analysis, which included areas such as industry research: trends, competition and clients, highlights where adjustments could be made, and a 2013 monthly budget.

Presenting to their client was exhilarating. “They were curious and willing to learn. They came in open-minded,” Mathewson said. “To see what could be changed and then point them out to the person who could make the changes was really cool,” Anderson said.

The students, who are predominately seniors, are looking to the future. “I love snowboarding. It would be awesome to do accounting in that industry. Accounting is a job, but if you can do it in an industry you love, it’s the best of both worlds,” Brumm said.

Because of the work that she had done in this class, Anderson has landed an internship with a hotel company that will turn into a job upon completion of the internship. “I never knew much about the consulting side before. This project gave me that perspective,” she said.

Howard was impressed with the students work. “Both groups focused on the same things, where we thought that there were opportunities. These guys put a lot of time into this project. It is very much appreciated.”

For more information about the Accounting Student to Business Initiative, visit the Center for Economic Development website.

Continental Ski & Bki clients with Accounting SBI students
Continental Ski & Bike clients Andre Watt (far left) and Bill Howard (far right) with Accounting Student to Business Initiative team members (l-r) Luke Suchy, Hannah Tollefson, and Kevin Younghans.
 


 

 

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, December 2012

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