Real-world experiences set Capella’s MBA program apart

Shawn Morrison hesitated at first.

As executive director and founder of Good in the ‘Hood, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that collects donated shoes and resells them to help fund food shelves in the Twin Cities, Morrison had hired college students in the past. They were well-meaning, but their impact on his organization’s mission was minimal, and the results really weren’t worth the effort. They just didn’t have the experience or depth of expertise he needed.

So when someone suggested he partner with the MBA students at Capella University, he didn’t immediately jump at the idea. As a nonprofit leader, Morrison simply doesn’t have time to waste on projects that don’t produce results, no matter how well-intended.

With a mission to feed 80,000+ people a year, however, Morrison needed all the help he could get. He decided to give it a shot. He couldn’t be more glad he did.

“I’ve been really impressed by both the faculty and students’ intelligence and enthusiasm,” Morrison says. “For any business or nonprofit that needs some strategic business advice, Capella and its students can help to tighten up and amplify business practices. I’ve been really pleased with the engagement and the results. I highly recommend it. It’s been tremendous.”

He attributes that success to most MBA students at Capella being working adults. They’ve lived. They’ve worked. That experience and ability to think critically to solve real business problems makes all the difference.

Capella MBA students can choose from a degree with a specialization, or design their own learning experience.

Capella MBA students solve real-world business problems

For the past year, Capella University has partnered with both nonprofit such as Good in the `Hood, and for-profit organizations, using Riipen, an online platform that connects students with organizations to work on real-word projects. It’s part of a growing emphasis on experiential education at Capella. From reviews of those involved, it’s been a tremendous success.

“Working one-on-one with a real-world organization is so gratifying,” says MBA student Staci Hunsinger. “This is not just theoretical. It’s real. It makes me look at things differently than I do now in my day job. It gives me ideas in how to incorporate what I’m learning into my work, and that is so meaningful.”

By working with organizations like Good in the `Hood, Capella’s MBA students work to master outcomes that include:

  • Planning and executing the strategic and tactical elements of a comprehensive project
  • Integrating and demonstrating the business leadership skills and techniques learned throughout the Capella MBA program
  • Developing and communicating specific recommendations to the partner organizations

“I see a night-and-day difference among students who participate in this sort of experiential learning,” says Chris Fichera, DBA, faculty member with Capella University’s MBA program. “They are so engaged and energized. This real-world experience is invaluable, even for those students who already have many years of experience in another field or organization.”

Students in Fichera’s MBA capstone course at Capella work together in teams of four or five to partner with an organization over the course of a semester. At Good in the ‘Hood, they researched and provided actionable recommendations on how the organization could bolster its brand recognition and increase donations of high-quality shoes.

In addition to Capella’s MBA program, students in Capella’s master’s in IT online degree programs are also engaged in experiential learning through Riipen.

Each master’s degree at Capella University has different program features and requirements.

Capella IT students help nonprofits streamline reporting

“Capella’s IT students have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, including cloud infrastructure, data security, project management, and more,” says Melissa Zgola, MS, MA, faculty chair with the School of Business and Technology at Capella University. “They’ve conducted website audits and designed web application prototypes. They’ve conducted data analyses and developed dashboards of organizational results. These are very meaty and meaningful projects. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved.”

Another organization that Capella’s students have worked with is Inner Voice, a Chicago-based nonprofit that helps people who are experiencing homelessness turn their lives around.

Carol Mjoseth, director of development for Inner Voice, explains that the need is tremendous and that Inner Voice sought help from experienced professionals who have both the passion and experience to make a real difference. From developing an IT cloud infrastructure to strategizing on a comprehensive reporting dashboard to exploring nongovernmental funding streams, she said Inner Voice has sophisticated needs and high expectations. Capella’s students have delivered and then some.

“We are simply thrilled,” Mjoseth says. “This is an opportunity to partner with working professionals with deep skill sets and talents. We absolutely benefit from great minds doing hard work. Their experience, combined with the guidance and instruction in the courseroom, it’s just a wonderful mix of skills and knowledge that applies to our needs. It really does make a huge difference.”

Gain the experience to take your career to the next level with an online MBA from Capella University.