Skip to main content

The RBDC Prepares Students for the Real World

The Research and Business Development Center came to the BYU-Idaho Career Center on campus Fall Semester 2021 as part of a seven-part career market in the Manwaring Center over a seven-week span. The Career Market gave students the opportunity to network with potential employers and practice their interviewing skills. Though the RBDC is not a campus organization, it works with faculty and students to provide real-life experiences for BYU-Idaho students to help them prepare for the work force.

BYU-Idaho Career Center Managing Director Derek Fay explained that the RBDC is a non-profit organization that BYU-Idaho contracts to for real life experiences for students.

Ultimately, the organization looks for projects that businesses need completed in data analytics, marketing, writing, strategic positioning, and work on software, to name a few. RBDC then puts together teams of BYU-Idaho students to work on those projects, giving students the opportunity to practice the things they learn in their classes.

“These groups of students don’t have to be any specific major,” Fay said. “A student of any major can come and have these experiences. And really, the killer application of this is the hard and soft skills that students get, some of which can apply toward an internship credit.”

Fay explained that the RBDC recently polled a number of students who participated in these projects. Students ranked several categories of things they learned just by getting outside of the classroom and working on a real project with a multi-faceted team. The skills students reportedly gained included working in teams, leadership, professional writing, along with some software and data analysis.

RBDC Director of Business Development Ryon Brewer says these skills are especially helpful to students when they attend interviews for jobs.

“That’s one of the exciting things about the RBDC,” Brewer said. “It gives students real world experience in real projects with real project teams, and they are able to put that on résumés.”

According to Brewer, of the students who participated in RBDC projects within the last 3 years, 64 percent said that working with the RBDC was helpful or very helpful in getting them their next job.

The RBDC projects sometimes require enough work to qualify for internship credit, and some faculty on campus have worked RBDC projects into their curriculum.

“There’s a lot of credit-bearing experiences that happen here, inside the curriculum of some faculty and also some internships,” Fay said, “But at the bare minimum, it’s just a good way to gain some good muscles that help you develop skills that make you hirable—that make you know how to do some things outside of a class project.”

In 2021 alone, nearly 1,200 BYU-Idaho students participated in an RBDC project, an increase over 1,054 students in 2020. “The RBDC just stepped up and said, ‘Look, we can do remote projects, and we can still do them for companies from all over the United States.’ And so, some students that had an internship fall through due to the pandemic used the RBDC for a remote internship and still fulfilled internship credit,” Fay said.

As faculty members have incorporated the RBDC in their curriculum and encouraged students to participate more, an increased number of students have had the opportunity to experience these learning projects.

“It looks great because students can put their name on a résumé item that says I did a project for the City of Ammon. I did this project for the INL or for Emerson or for Hitachi,” Fay said.

Helping students get involved with the RBDC doesn’t have to be a lot of work for faculty members.

“A lot of faculty members know of the co-curricular programs that we have,” Brewer said. “But that’s only a part of what we do. All that faculty really need to do is make students aware and send them our way. And then we can take it from there.”

The RBDC started in 2014 after two similar programs, the Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurial Center and SIRI (a research institute), combined efforts and became the Research and Business Development Center.