Poole students are characterized by first-time hands-on collaboration with Leeds University Business School
By Jess Clarke
Poole student Jane Burkhart enjoyed unforgettable activities while studying abroad in Leeds, England: attending Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee events, hearing about climate change from Prince William and performing by Alicia Keyes.
But the highlight of last spring’s trip? She gained a lot of confidence in her academic abilities.
The presentation she and her team gave at the end of her consulting internship at a startup boosted her self-confidence as a business administration student. The client project was intense – the students had to complete it in three weeks, half the time they would have had in a one-semester internship.
When I finished the presentation I was really proud of myself. Professor Chris Littel said to me: ‘You should put that on your CV. This is truly amazing work.’ I felt like I underestimated myself before the trip.
“When I finished the presentation I was really proud of myself. Professor Chris Littel said to me: ‘You should put that on your CV. This is truly amazing work.’ I felt like I underestimated myself before the trip,” says Burkhart, a junior.
The internship was one of three Entrepreneurship and International Business courses being taken by 16 students in England as part of the first collaboration between Poole and Leeds University Business School at the University of Leeds.
The consulting project is the culmination of the study experience.
Littel gave students a template to create an action plan, create an activity list, manage client expectations, and complete other tasks. “They had to structure, build and implement a solution to a real problem with a real company in England,” says the Poole professor.
In doing so, students strengthened a range of skills: problem solving, presenting, research, contract management and teamwork. Each student team had face-to-face meetings with the client before presenting the final report.
Students built their experience at the Poole Entrepreneurship Program Clinic in Raleigh working alongside business owners and benefited from access to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and faculty of the University of Leeds.
In Leeds, Burkhart’s team worked with the head of Crysp, a B2B software and enterprise resource planning platform that manages real estate, compliance and risk of commercial and school real estate. The students analyzed the feasibility of Crysp entering the US market. That would leverage the presence in North Carolina of one of the company’s investors, Twinkl, based in Sheffield, England.
After research that included interactions with US public secondary education professionals, the students recommended that Crysp market its product in the US over the next 18 months.
“We absolutely loved the impact NC State students were making at Crysp. As our business grows, we see the North American market as key for our future,” says company co-founder Pete Mills. “Having the opportunity to work with NC State students in conjunction with the University of Leeds was an opportunity not to be missed as we plan to piggyback this… Obviously every single one (of the students) was of our mission and ours Product excited and , crucial how we could penetrate the US market.”
The study abroad experience could lead to closer collaboration between Poole and Leeds University Business School.
For Ben Stevens, a Business Major at Poole who also worked for Crysp, the trip to Leeds introduced him to working with people from different cultures. “In another country you are a bit out of your comfort zone. You have to talk to people you don’t normally talk to,” says the second-year student. “Having to have such experiences was really helpful.”
He also enjoyed speaking to a group of entrepreneurs, visiting a co-working space for startups and visiting other European countries on weekends.
Stevens and other Poole students left Leeds with valuable knowledge and skills to launch their careers.
“The students have had an exceptional experience in understanding startup companies in the region. They were exposed to different cultures, languages and events that broadened their horizons. Above all, they have had a really great experience working with a real startup in the UK that will help them do similar things in the US,” says Littel.
dr Richard Tunstall, Host and Academic Director for Business at Leeds University Business School, said: “The students we hosted had a huge impact on the campus. It was inspirational to see them tackle a real business problem in a different country that most had never visited before. Their results were impressive and had a tangible impact on the companies of the LUBS Enterprise Ambassadors.
Burkhart isn’t sure what kind of work she will pursue after graduation. But whatever it is, after speaking to motivated, innovative entrepreneurs in Leeds, she has more confidence that she can make a difference and be successful.
“I realized that if I want to do something, I shouldn’t let the fear that it might not work out limit me,” she says. “If you’re passionate about it, you just have to chase that dream.”