Experiential / Reality-based Learning / June 12, 2024

Experiential Learning Students Offer Expertise to Industry Clients in Project Showcase Event

Smith School students demonstrate their innovative solutions during presentations for corporate clients.
Smith School students demonstrate their innovative solutions during presentations for corporate clients, showcasing the practical impact of their experiential learning projects in the Master of Science in Management Studies programs.

When it came down to delivering real solutions for real-world clients, University of Maryland Robert H. School of Business graduate students did that and more.

Nineteen teams, comprised of two to five students in the Master of Science in Management Studies (MiM) and Online Master of Science in Management Studies (OMiM) Experiential Learning course, demonstrated their mastery of management skills through presenting their innovative deliverables for corporate clients. Eleven of the 19 teams showcased their products to an audience of students, faculty, staff and corporate partners during an in-person event on May 10 in Van Munching Hall. The OMiM students presented virtually to their respective clients throughout the second and third week of May. 

“This day was the culmination of all the hard work of our students in the MiM and OMiM programs. We are so incredibly proud of them. They have all been creative, passionate, data-driven and professional. As some told us, this was even more meaningful than a regular internship,” say Rellie Derfler-Rozin, academic director of the Master in Management Studies and Online Master in Management Studies programs and Roy Thomason, lecturer in the Management and Organization department, co-lead of the MiM experiential learning class and lead of the OMiM experiential learning class.

Experiential Learning, divided across two courses, begins in the fall semester for MiM program students and during an asynchronous winter session course for OMiM program students. In the course’s first half, students work with MiM advisory council members, learning about their career paths and marking preferences for client partnerships along the way. This year, corporate clients included Fannie Mae, Myma.ai, Marriott International, the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, Teladoc Health, Major League Baseball, The New Zealand Story Group, Voyacy Ventures and Wang Family Tea.

During the spring semester, with consideration of their listed preferences, students are organized into multidisciplinary teams and gain an opportunity to forge relationships with their clients while building on the foundation of knowledge created over the program’s duration by producing work with the potential for tangible impact in the real world.

As a member of one of the two teams working with Marriott International on heightening awareness and engaging Gen-Z consumers with the company’s Bonvoy travel loyalty program, Banji Balogun, MiM ’24, found immense value in the course’s emphasis on finding solutions for real-world projects.

“I learned that it truly pays off to be creative and think outside the box because my group was really productive in our brainstorming sessions, and thus, the Marriott reps we worked with were pleased by the end of the project,” says Balogun.

Claudia Ahawo, MiM ’24, was a member of one of the two student teams associated with Teladoc Health and its task of leveraging data toward increasing engagement with Teladoc for individuals aged 65 and over in rural areas of the United States. She says that the Experiential Learning course was “an absolute highlight” of the program, and she appreciated the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with industry professionals.

"I gained invaluable experience working on a consulting project with a client, from understanding their needs to presenting our recommendations,” says Ahawo. “It provided a realistic glimpse into the world of business consulting and the importance of effective communication and collaboration."

In his feedback to the two Teladoc teams during the in-person event, Jeremy Kinder, vice president and head of brand and creative at Teladoc, commended the teams on their extensive research, engaging presentations and ability to capture the company’s spirit and mission in the healthcare industry.

“There was so much empathy here, and you understood what the audience was looking for. You did not stereotype older Americans and realized that they strive to be independent,” said Kinder. “You challenged me and went beyond what I asked.”

The OMiM program, launched in fall 2023, is a purely online and primarily asynchronous version of the MiM program for working professionals or individuals with limited schedules. It is a more flexible and affordable alternative (approximately $25,000 in net effective tuition) for those seeking to enhance their careers with management education. During the spring semester of Experiential Learning, OMiM students participate in a unique interactive online experience that sees them hold live sessions and group and client meetings.

Myma.ai, a tech company specializing in integrated AI solutions for the tourism, hospitality and experience industries, enlisted the help of both MiM and OMiM students to develop a comprehensive business investment plan focused on optimizing the company’s growth based on factors such as its current offerings, market position and growth potential.

Team “Destiny,” comprised of Vaden Williams, Dorina Zindel, Anais Escobar and Jeremy Kiggundu, all 2024 OMiM graduates, partnered with the company during the spring semester.

Williams, an operations manager for Target, says that the hands-on experience gained from the project was “invaluable” in enhancing leadership and strategic planning skills.

“Through this project, I learned the importance of delegation, meeting hard deadlines, leading a virtual team, and the intricacies of P&L ownership,” Williams says.

Zindel, chief of staff at Momentum Unlimited, shares Williams’ sentiment regarding the significance of being able to participate in first-hand experiential learning even through an online program. She says one major takeaway from the project was “the importance of adaptability in business strategy development.”

“Throughout the project, we encountered several instances where initial assumptions were challenged by new market data or feedback from industry experts we interviewed,” says Zindel.

In a LinkedIn post following the presentations, Myma.ai CEO and co-founder David Thompson extended his “heartfelt thanks” on behalf of himself, fellow co-founder and CTO Andy Dharmani and the entire company board for the team’s “exceptional work.”

"Your presentation won in my and Andy's eyes, and we will now be presenting it to our board and recommending what you have given us," he said.

“We’re enthusiastic about the success of both the MiM and OMiM programs in providing an innovative, hands-on approach to management education,” says Derfler-Rozin.

“Apart from our enhanced and transformative focus on experiential learning, we keep innovating. In fall 2024, we are introducing a sports management focus area for MiM program students interested in pursuing sports industry careers. Coursework for this specialization includes topics such as name, image and likeness (NIL), global sports entrepreneurship, sports sales and sponsorships, and operations and event management. We look forward to seeing how this focus area will enhance our efforts in supporting and accelerating the career trajectories of our students,” she says.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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