INDIANAPOLIS — When students graduate from the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, they learn more than what’s inside their textbooks. Through the renowned Integrated Core, or I-Core, project, students cap off their undergraduate degree with a hands-on consulting project with local companies that are looking for new revenue streams.
This collaboration has contributed to successful and innovative ideas at many companies in and around Indianapolis, large and small, while preparing undergraduate business students for real-world challenges. The Kelley School is accepting applications from Central Indiana firms looking for help reaching future success.
Christy Walchle, vice president of operations at WSI Technologies in Indianapolis, was looking for business solutions when she partnered with Kelley students at IUPUI on an I-Core project. At the time, one of WSI’s subsidiary companies was planning to launch a new interview recording application and wanted to look beyond the firm’s typical public safety clients for additional marketing opportunities.
“The students helped us come up with other avenues for that market and how to position the product,” Walchle said. “These students are so accustomed to our app-based world. We knew they could help us focus strategically from the perspective of users who prefer apps. The students’ creative juices help us think outside the box.”
Walchle says the deliverables the students provided her company in their final presentation and business briefs inspired conversation among company leadership. Rather than a student project that is politely accepted and never implemented, Walchle says the time her company spent with I-Core students produced takeaways that were applicable and useful to the business’s growth.
I-Core teams include five to six students working on each company’s project, guided by Kelley faculty. There is no cost to firms partnering on I-Core projects, only the time a company representative spends with the students.
“The student teams put together a management brief that we sent to our leadership team. It was fun hearing the comments back and forth between our leaders, discussing the various points the students made,” said Walchle, who has completed additional I-Core projects with Kelley students. “Everybody in our leadership team had a favorite, and we were all was so impressed with what a professional recommendation the students provided. It was great to see the pride they took in completing this work. They did a fantastic job, and it was an excellent experience.”
Throughout the semester, students work closely with companies to understand the organizations, discuss their needs and goals, and analyze potential opportunities. At the end of the semester, each team presents its findings and recommendations to a panel of company managers and the I-Core faculty.
“During the project, we researched their customers, learned about their challenges, created solutions, and debated with our teammates about which idea is worth pursuing,” said Taras Stefyuk, a Kelley senior at IUPUI majoring in management. “It was the most challenging semester of my college life, but I am glad I successfully finished it.”
While I-Core projects are centered around creating revenue-generating ideas through capital investments and operations updates, both students and company partners tend to get a great deal more out of these collaborations.
“Company representatives have enjoyed the interactions with our students, and they appreciate having a fresh set of ideas and opinions from the youngest generation, often taking advantage of recruiting for internships, mentorships, and full-time jobs,” said Kim Donahue, teaching professor and the I-Core coordinator for the Kelley School at IUPUI.
Companies who collaborate with Kelley students on I-Core projects are investing in future business leaders, as more than 95% of Kelley students from IUPUI stay in central Indiana after graduation. Through I-Core, companies can present themselves and their job opportunities to a pool of high-quality business talent preparing to enter the job market.
Sherwin Williams Company has been an ongoing participant in I-Core projects. Talent Acquisition Specialist Angela Williams says the experience has successfully attracted many Kelley graduates to the company’s management and sales internships and training programs.
“I-Core helps us attract innovative, diverse thinkers and affords us the ability to shape our business in 2022 and beyond,” Williams said. “It’s a way for us to network with students in an intimate classroom setting and allows them to learn more about Sherwin Williams as a whole. We build awareness as students connect with our brand, and we give back by helping them gain hands-on experience.”
How to get involved
If you would like your business to partner on an I-Core project, complete an application. Companies must be:
- For-profit organizations
- In business for five years ideally, with a minimum of three years in operation
- Able to show an operating profit for at least three years, with a minimum of one year
- Incorporated as an S corporation, C corporation, or an LLC
- Be open to sky-is-the-limit ideas
This article also appears on the Kelley School of Business IUPUI news blog.