Austin Brown ’17 LABB 2016-Thus far, the Liberal Arts Bridging to Business Program has been fast-paced and extremely informative in a variety of ways. From financial boot camp to business case studies, I have already been introduced to many different fundamental business practices that are essential to small business owners and large corporations alike. Most recently, we have learned a great deal surrounding the art of negotiations, or the business chess match. Simulating labor contract negotiations between unions and management, interns were split into teams with a simple objective: negotiate the best possible deal for your side. Having completed two of the three rounds, I can say that this activity has already proved to be very valuable, and it is a great teaching tool. Rather than simply read about how to negotiate, we are given the opportunity to actually battle it out with our fellow interns and work through the process ourselves. First-hand experience is vital when learning anything, and the LABB program utilizes this method of learning in nearly everything that we do.
Another important event of Week 4 was Lean training and certification, a two-day process held on campus. Lean training is a philosophy used by many businesses and corporations, which stresses the importance of efficiency and reduced wastes. On Day 1, we learned how Lean philosophy first developed within manufacturing, and we were able to experience this process with a paper airplane making competition. Interns were split into teams and given the task of producing the greatest number of high-quality paper airplanes possible. In the first round, we were required to follow a strict manufacturing procedure, and we soon realized the inefficiencies of the assigned procedure. In the second round, we were able to manipulate our procedure, which made the process much more efficient in producing high-quality paper airplanes. Once again, I, along with my teammates, was able to apply learned techniques to real life situations. On Day 2, we fully recognized the Lean philosophy’s potential by applying its teachings to a non-manufacturing process, such as the fast food industry. Interns were split into teams, and we chose a fast food restaurant to analyze. The goal of this activity was to produce a kanban, or simple, cheap change, for the business to implement that would reduce their costs, improve worker efficiency, or increase customer satisfaction. While this was purely hypothetical, the activity was engaging and insightful. Personally, it reinforced the notion that a business should never become complacent, and there are always some sorts of inefficiencies or wastes that can be better managed or eliminated.
As a religion major and political science minor, the LABB program has already provided me with a wealth of knowledge in only four weeks. From marketing research to case studies to constant presentation practice, I am constantly kept on my toes, yet I have never felt like I have been at a disadvantage. The LABB program does a great job of introducing students of all areas of study to the essentials of business and entrepreneurship, and all of this is accomplished through first-hand, hands-on experiences. I have been pleasantly surprised by how great the LABB program truly is.