SI-MBA Practicum Projects: It Begins!

Written By:
Vanessa Chumbley ’22
Managing Editor
Connect with Vanessa on LinkedIn

It felt like waking up to learn school is cancelled for a snow day. It was December 22nd and SI-MBA students finally received something we’d been waiting for with bated breath for weeks – our Practicum Project assignments.

The Practicum Projects are the capstone experience of the SI-MBA program. They are a full-time, hands-on, consulting project with an organization seeking to advance sustainable business within their own organization or their industry. These organizations may be entrepreneurial ventures, B corporations, NGOs (non-governmental organizations, or non-profits), or large, international corporations. Projects focus on a range of issues – from supply chain, to impact investing, to sustainable business strategy, to measurement and reporting of GHG emissions, to affecting sustainable behavior change through media and entertainment content.

Teams of two to four students are paired with a host organization before the new year, and once January rolls around, the preliminary research begins. This is where our cohort is now – holding kickoff meetings with host organizations and beginning to wrap our minds around the scope of our projects. It’s a very exciting time, as we’re able to start applying what we’ve been learning in the classroom to solve real-world problems. What is even more exciting, the organizations we are engaged with – which include Microsoft, Burton, Clorox, SAS, and a consortium of film and TV companies including HBO and Disney – may actually implement the ideas we come up with. While the Practicum is not job placement, these projects open doors to industries of interest and provide critical networking opportunities and practical experience which, who knows, could lead to a job offer in the future. Here are some common questions about Practicum Projects:

Are the host organizations the same every year?

No – while SI-MBA has relationships with several companies that do repeatedly host Practicum Projects, it is not always the same organizations from one year to the next. As the program grows, expands its reach, and makes new connections, new host organizations become part of the UVM network.

Additionally, students are able to build their own connections with specific organizations of interest in the hopes of setting up a Practicum Project. This is great for the student if they have a specific goal or organization in mind and it is great for the program, as it expands their network.

How does the selection process work?

The SI-MBA administration and faculty advisors work hard throughout the fall semester cultivating Practicum Projects. Interested host organizations submit Practicum proposals with a brief description of the project. Then, before the new year, the cohort receives the full list of proposals. We then rank our top three choices, and it’s almost guaranteed that we will be placed in either our first or second choice. Because students are placed in teams of two to four people, many projects do not get chosen, so it can be a competitive process for the host organizations.

Does the Practicum happen at the same time as coursework?

Yes and no – the bulk of the Practicum work takes place from mid-May through July, once our core coursework has been completed. This is when we are expected to be working full-time on the project. However, we are expected to conduct research and fully scope the project from January through mid-May on a part-time basis.  

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Do students get paid for their work on the Practicum projects?

No – students receive course credit for the Practicum and do not get paid. However, these projects provide invaluable networking opportunities, practical experience, and resume content.

Do students work remotely or travel to the host organization?

This is largely up to the host organization, who will cover the costs of any travel if it is deemed necessary. For the most part, work is done remotely as this greatly increases the breadth of potential host organizations, from local Vermont companies, to US-based and international organizations.

As the year progresses, we will be sharing more information about our Practicum Projects and the work we are doing. Additionally, be on the lookout for this years’ list of Practicum Project descriptions on the SI-MBA website, coming soon!