We’re now in week 4 of the #CS68 Experienceship! It’s crazy how fast time goes during the programs. The students have now completed their client reports and are getting ready to focus on developing their business ideas. Initially, the client report can appear a bit alien to the students as for most of them, the majority of work they have done at school is built upon textbook case studies. The CS client project puts them in direct contact with the founders of local startups and gives them the opportunity to assume the role of consultants, completing a marketing analysis report of the company.
This project allows the students to develop a plethora of skills. First and foremost it gives them insight into the key areas of a Startup; market opportunity, target audience, social media management, website design, customer experience, competition and differentiation. As they are working in teams, it also provides them with an environment in which to develop their project management skills; planning, time management, delegation, communication and teamwork. The thing I love most about the projects is the fact that it gives the students (for normally the first time ever) the chance to complete a piece of work with external impact. The Startup’s they work with are all local and part of The Generator co-work community and they take the results of the students projects seriously. There is huge value in the students seeing that this piece of work isn’t validated by a grade but rather by the impact that it can potentially have on a real business. Not only does this add a level of accountability to the work but also witnessing the impact of their results acts as an great confidence boost for the students.
This time around, the students are working with The Generator — Exeter’s first and largest co-work space, Bear Strength — an online CrossFit Apparel brand and Sancho’s Dress — a marketplace of ethical clothing and Fairtrade gifts. Given the natural progression of education into work, it seems crazy that during their time in school, students are provided with so little interaction with employers and business owners! I love the CS client project because it gives the students the perfect opportunity to develop their workplace skills in a safe environment where they can get feedback and continue to improve each day. This means that by the time they come to apply for jobs, they are already ahead of the crowd in their understanding of how to manage their professional self-brand, professional relationships and project management.
Talking of students, I need to go and see how they are getting on with this afternoon’s activities!