Students, community, industry benefit from collaborative business opportunities

Six Maine Business School students interned this summer at Hannaford Bros. in Scarborough as part of an innovative program designed to address the needs of the state’s economic community and the needs of scholars.

The Corporate Classroom is an internship program supported by the Professional Development Center (PDC), which provides consulting services, professional development education workshops, and experiential student learning through internships and corporate classroom experiences.

The collaborative initiative is supported by a University of Maine System Research Reinvestment Fund (RRF) planning grant.

Niclas Erhardt, director of the PDC and associate dean of Maine Business School, says experiential learning is important for future business leaders.

“Internships like the Corporate Classroom allow students to apply learning by doing,” says Erhardt. “They are engaged, interacting and learning because they are exposed to sitting in team meetings, observing leaders, and seeing how they deal with communication problems – it’s critical.”

This unique opportunity role modeled work conduct, communication skills, business attire, and workflow management – all while strengthening ties to the industry through networking.

Courtney Lemieux is an accounting major from Alfred, Maine and is grateful for the Corporate Classroom experience.

“I was able to meet with different people every day who were knowledgeable and passionate in their specific role,” says Lemieux. “Being able to ask questions allowed me to gain different perspectives.”

Erhardt says the PDC seeks to entice students to take advantage of summer learning opportunities in Maine and keep recent graduates here to live, work and play.

Maine Business School students receive the highest level of teaching and learning in this hands-on environment, says Susanne Lee, Executive-in-Residence faculty member for this summer’s Corporate Classroom pilot program.

“Students come out miles ahead of their peers when they graduate with this kind of experience,” she says.

And it’s not only the students who benefit. Hannaford gained vital insights as the interns assisted with research projects involving sustainability and omni-channel retailing — or retail that integrates different methods of shopping, including online, by phone, and going to a store.

UMaine faculty also interact with the business community to produce collaborative and interdisciplinary research. Faculty analyze business needs and use the data to determine methods to support Maine’s workforce and economic development.

Future workshops offered through a collaboration with business faculty at the University of Maine at Machias are intended to help local businesses overcome barriers with management practices, finances, bookkeeping, communication and leadership. Other educational opportunities will be geared toward job seekers – offered at no cost to participants.

“I commend Dr. Nic Erhardt and the faculty who are working to implement best practices with the PDC,” says Faye Gilbert, Dean of the Undergraduate School of Business – Maine Business School. “These collaborative interactions are distinctive and provide a framework to define how Universities should be working with firms, faculty, and students to shape future steps.”

Media contact: Christel Peters, 207.581.3571