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The Daily Tar Heel

MBAs Gain Real-World Experience

The Kenan-Flagler Practicum Program, an option for second-year Master of Business Administration students, pairs teams of students with Triangle companies to create a mutually beneficial relationship. The students in the program work closely with the businesses to help them reach specific goals.

Last year, about 20 teams of four to six students each worked with 20 companies. "Companies get a source of access to the skills of MBAs, and students gain real-world experiences," said Marc Saulsbury, Practicum Program coordinator and a graduate student in the business school.

Management Professor James Johnson, who assigns practicums for all his students, said the program creates tangible benefits by linking theory to practice.

Not only do students benefit from practicums, but companies also stand to win, Saulsbury said. By interacting with the business school faculty and students, employers gain insight from teams of MBA students, and they can analyze students' potential as future employees.

A number of students have gone on to work in Research Triangle Park companies with which they did practicum work, such as recent graduate Kelly Boone. Now the director of business development at Micell Integrated Systems, Boone participated in a practicum with his company in the fall 2000. "I expected it to be interesting and fun to work with other MBA students, but it's hard to understand a market where you've never had any experience," he said.

While he was a graduate student in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, Boone entered the nationally-renowned MOOT CORP Competition, where he presented the business plan he had worked on during his practicum. He won $1,000 for investment in the strategic plan for Micell Integrated Systems, the subsidiary that he helped create.

The practicum program also is an opportunity for students at the business school to enhance their resum

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