Two student-centered initiatives, Coyote Business Consulting Group and BEST – Sioux Falls, have helped accomplish these goals by providing students with real-world experiences that have positively impacted South Dakota businesses.

Coyote Business Consulting Group

The Beacom School of Business launched the Coyote Business Consulting Group to help businesses succeed and provide students with real-world opportunities to prepare them for the workforce.

While the program was initially created to solve challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Beacom School of Business made the decision to continue the program after it proved to be successful in its first year.

“The first session of Coyote Business Consulting Group was incredibly successful for both the businesses we helped and our students, so it was very important for us to continue the program,” said Venky Venkatachalam, Ph.D., dean of the USD Beacom School of Business. “We are committed to economic development throughout the state of South Dakota and are excited to continue to support businesses.”

Through the program, students have gained experience in multiple dimensions of the business world, including market research, business planning, budget analysis, business analytics, strategic planning, project management, peer-to-peer learning and working on a high-performance team.

Kate Solberg, a senior marketing and management major, has been involved with the Coyote Business Consulting Group for two years, and she said that this program has prepared her for the next step in many ways.

“I have gained more professional connections to my network through Coyote Business Consulting,” Solberg said. “I have also gained market research experience and learned the importance of asking the right questions to get the answers that will move the project forward. This project works with many deadlines in a fairly short time frame, which has helped prepare me for a fast-paced work environment by being timely and accountable.”

The Beacom School of Business launched the third round of the Coyote Business Consulting Group on January 12, 2022. Over three years, the Coyote Business Consulting Group has cumulatively served 29 counties across the state of South Dakota and has facilitated 90 total projects with nearly 180 students participating.

“Working with the Coyote Business Consulting Group was a great experience for our business,” said Cheryl Bartlett, founder of Harvest Winds LLC. “They took the time to listen to what our needs were and what we wanted to see happen with the consultants. The research that they did was exceptional and relevant to our business. I feel that any business at any level would benefit from this program.”

"The student and faculty teams have had a positive impact across the state and more importantly, in the rural communities,” Venkatachalam said. “This success has energized us to continue serving the state by engaging more small businesses across South Dakota."

BEST – Beacom’s Business Engagement for Students

Since its launch in 2019, Beacom’s Business Engagement for Students (BEST) has partnered with Sioux Falls area business to provide students with real-world experiences and create a pipeline of prepared professionals for the workforce.

“As the state and region’s leading business school, it was important that the USD Beacom School of Business create a program that helps develop a supply chain of young, talented business professionals for career opportunities with businesses in the state’s largest city,” said Venkatachalam. “BEST – Sioux Falls not only does that, but it also prepares students to pursue careers in business. They are trained with a rigorous curriculum, cutting-edge technology and are mentored by a team of highly talented and dedicated faculty.”

The program was developed in collaboration with the City of Sioux Falls, the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development at the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, said that the BEST – Sioux Falls program is a great example of how all these groups work together to solve workforce challenges.

"Dean Venkatachalam and his team at the USD Beacom School of Business develop exceptionally talented students. Surveys show us that exponential learning experiences, such as job shadows and internship programs, are a few primary factors for college graduates choosing an employer,” Guzzetta said. “As a talent attraction competitive strategy, this is a ‘win in workforce’ for all involved.”

After students are accepted to the program, they are broken into teams and assigned a business and a specific project to complete based on the needs of that business.

The teams work with designated project managers in each business to identify problems, develop methodologies, collect and analyze date, and propose and implement solutions, including identifying potential benefits to the organization.

Hollyn Carlton, a senior marketing major, participated in the BEST – Sioux Falls program. She worked on a project with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, analyzing the opportunity for digital transformation in South Dakota, and speculated future developments in Sioux Falls’ population and infrastructure.

Carlton said that being involved with BEST – Sioux Falls helped her learn how to be more versatile, improved her skills in working with a team and staying flexible in an ever-changing workplace, and helped her build valuable connections that will help her in her future.

“The program created networking events with many Sioux Falls companies and business leaders, which helped me form important relationships,” Carlton said.

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