Apply your skills
Businesses need fresh, creative minds to grow, solve problems, and run more efficiently. That’s where Calvin students come in. Calvin Action Projects (CAPs) are designed to serve local companies through teams of Calvin business students.
“Students serve on teams as consultants for client companies,” explained Bob Eames, director of the Calvin Center for Innovation in Business. Eames is a former professor who was instrumental in the creation of CAPs.
CAPs require students to apply what they've learned in their business classes and internships in real-world business situations. Abby Brinks, now a pricing analyst at Gordon Food Service, worked on a CAP team that partnered with Fifth Third Bank.
“At the time, I was interning as a data analyst at a company called Adtegrity,” Abby recounted. “I applied the skills I learned from my internship to my CAP.” Other team members used their marketing and finance skills on the project.
Become a partner
The CAP experience is powerful—and sometimes challenging. It requires solving complex problems that often have more than one right answer. Most students go into projects with little or no industry or company knowledge.
“The students are assigned a problem. They analyze a company’s confidential data and do additional market and industry research. Then they make recommendations back to the company,” shared Eames.
Abby experienced some of the challenges of working with an established company during her CAP.
“We ran into an issue where the company wasn’t giving us the raw data we needed to make solid recommendations. They were giving us averaged-out data,” explained Abby. Her team had to confront the company to be able to continue their work. “Once you work your way into the business world, you have to be your own advocate. Sometimes you have to push back if you’re not getting the information you need.”
When you work with a business the way CAP students do, you shift from being a student to a trusted partner.
“There’s a role change that happens,” Abby reflected. “You’re not just learning from somebody, you’re providing them with something. One successful CAP can wind up saving a company thousands of dollars.”
This kind of consulting work isn’t typical of undergraduate students. The employers in Calvin’s partner companies notice that.
Eames pointed out that “the companies often hire our students as interns and employees because they’re impressed with the students and what they can do.”