Accounting degree students at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud find that when it comes to balancing the books for a class, nothing is quite as satisfying as working out a budget for the local nonprofit, Hands Across the World.
“Our goal was to re-evaluate their budget, help increase their funding and work toward an innovative solution for further growth,” explained student Cory Ley. “[It] was very rewarding to know that we helped lift some stress off her [Director Brianda Cediel’s] shoulders.”
Hands Across the World (HAW) serves new immigrants and refugees to the greater St. Cloud area. It provides basic English, arithmetic, technology and life skills to those seeking entry into the workforce and to their family members.
Cediel was overjoyed with the accounting students’ assistance and said that their skills helped the organization immensely. HAW is in continuous need of volunteers, materials and even food supplies.
Students explained in a class presentation the obstacles HAW was up against in its budget, including missing tax return information, large gaps between projected and actual funding, and inefficient staffing.
The students also experienced communication challenges in working with the organization. However, Ley believed these challenges only enriched his learning experience and further prepared him for his future career.
“In business, being able to work with language barriers, other ethnicities and learning abilities is a must,” he said. “This [applied learning experience] brought education to a new level by not only implementing what we have learned in class, but [also utilized] soft skills from Collegiate DECA and Global Citizenship.”
He added, “In a globalized economy, having an understanding of who you’re doing business with or communicating with is a must. Common practices here in the U.S. may be perceived or communicated differently in another country.”
Working with Hands Across the World gave crunching numbers a larger sense of purpose, the students agreed. Christine Stein said that knowing they helped the organization with the budget was gratifying, but that creating a project where other students and volunteers can follow through in the future was a great feeling.
It’s also fulfilling to know that accounting and balancing the books aren’t just about numbers.