Applied learning projects are certainly a great way to get involved with the community as well as gain experience using nonprofits and businesses that actually exist. Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center (MSB) is fortunate to have a nonprofit organization located at the campus, BC’s Closet, which has provided several applied learning opportunities since the idea originated in the winter of 2011.
Since its grand opening in August 2012, there have been many ups and downs. Luckily for the organization, there are several students on campus who are interested in seeing the nonprofit get back on its feet.
Throughout the spring 2014 quarter, three different classes chose to take on projects related to BC’s Closet. Each project’s purpose was to assist in an area that needed an improvement.
A group of students taking the course Database Implementation through our online program completed the first project. The students had been seeking out a client who might be looking for a new or improved database system. While the database for BC’s Closet certainly worked, there were small areas that needed updating.
Before he graduated this quarter with an associate in applied science in information technology, Michael Rooney assisted with the database. “This was a group project, and my job was to help redesign the database to improve the data referenced when performing queries. Most of the improvements were eliminating data redundancy and renaming and/or deleting certain attributes for convenience. Overall, I enjoyed working on the project to get more database experience.”
The second project dealt with the overall organization of the clothes in the closet. Due to many donations coming in over the past two years, the nonprofit expanded its space by putting clothing racks into the BC’s Closet office space. Now, one room holds the women’s clothes, and the other room holds the men’s clothes. After the decision to do this, some reorganization needed to occur.
Students in the Customer Service Strategies course took on this second project. According to Momoh Dudu, instructor for the course as well as the business and accounting program chair at the MSB-BC campus, said, “The students were very excited and pleased that they were able to work with the school-operated nonprofit. They helped to begin the process of turning the space into a more organized area where customers will have an easier time finding the clothes by type (male or female clothes) and by size. They believe that this will make BC’s Closet more user-friendly, which therefore will enrich the customer service experience.”
Analyzing the current website for the nonprofit and offering suggestions for improvement was the third project taken on by the Small Business Management class.
Brandon Huberty, a business administration student, suggested that the class take on the website. He said, “I wanted to do something for the closet because it gave me not only a chance to help myself, but it opened the door to helping other people as well. Working on the website was a blast because we were able to include original ideas about how to improve the site from a marketing perspective. It gave us a chance to showcase what we knew about various things like websites, design, and marketing.”
Michelle Barsness, director of career services and co-founder of BC’s Closet, was thrilled with all of the work that the students did over the quarter. “By focusing on areas that need improvement, our students are gaining real-life experience but also working to improve an organization that they each can benefit from. It’s a win-win situation for all of us, and I am thrilled that students still have the drive to help keep BC’s Closet alive.”
For more information on BC’s Closet or Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center, please call 763-566-7777.