The experience business students gain while studying on the BYU-Idaho campus prepares them for the real world. The capstone IBC course that is required for most business majors strengthens the hard and soft skills students will need to succeed. Knowing this, faculty members that oversee the IBC program have found ways to make sure students still exercise those skills while heeding social distancing guidelines.
When IBC director Matthew Maroon and his team found out spring semester would be taught through remote classes his team got right to work preparing for the transition.
“When this happened, we started to brainstorm about our options. IBC is challenging because most of it is dependent upon students opening shops on campus and social interaction. But I had been thinking for some time about scaling the IBC class to students who are not on campus,” Maroon said.
Students taking the IBC course this semester still meet daily through video conference calls and discuss the role each student performs through the semester and how to make the business thrive. Without a booth on campus or a physical presence, the students have had to learn how to become relevant on the internet and social media.
The number of students enrolled in the IBC course this semester is much smaller than usual. With fewer students, all of those taking the class are working in one IBC group for the Spring 2020 Semester piloting the remote version of the course, contrasting the usual eight groups per semester.
Maroon expressed how even through the course is being held online, IBC students will experience the true purpose of the business class.
“Contrary to what some students think, the IBC course is not about how to create your own business,” Maroon said. “In reality, the purpose of the course is to help students learn what it takes to be effective and impactful in a real working environment; meaning collaborating with others, developing soft skills in order to influence others to get the job done, among other things.”
Matthew Maroon shared how the current circumstances have pushed him and other faculty members to think of how to implement new strategies for the program and think about what aspects of the course are really working and what could be improved for future classes. Thus, the social distancing circumstances have not only put them in a position of change, but have inspired them to reconsider their ways.
“At first, everybody was going through phases of grief and acceptance,” Maroon said. “However, it did not take long for us to see this as an opportunity, and that is because many of us have had entrepreneurial experience, so many of us did not feel like the floor was pulled out from below us, we felt more like an opportunity was presented and we had to get to work.”
Other skills, such as learning how to market online and through social media will be encouraged for this small group of students that will be learning not only how to run a business through e-commerce, but how to become relevant in platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. This means the typical strategies of putting posters on campus and having videos on the screens across the university to create interest and generate traffic will have to be replaced with online marketing strategies and social media interaction.
“This will give students an opportunity to focus on marketing and coming up with business solutions,” Maroon said. “There is so much they have to worry about when they are working with a physical experience. This time they do not have to set up a booth, create posters or sort a great amount of inventory. We are hoping this will allow them more time to come up with a more robust marketing plan and implement tools such as Google Ads.”
The IBC group that is taking this remote version of the class has decided to do a t-shirt company selling vintage apparel based on the “Rexburg life.”