Students solving real world business problems for companies seems like a bit of a reach, but CyBIZ Lab has done it. CyBIZ Lab is a student consulting firm within the Ivy College of Business.
CyBIZ Lab gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, many revolving around marketing and marketing research. Located in the Research Park, CyBIZ Lab has the ability to house all employees at once and host meetings with clients.
“We pull a bunch of data from a variety of different sources, try to make sense of it to bring forward to clients and then attempt to help them improve their business in some sort of way,” said Tyler Kutz, a graduate student in business administration.
After the 3M Corporation Program ended, current CyBIZ Lab Director Judi Eyles wrote a proposal for the CyBIZ Lab program. This proposal was prior to Dean of the College of Business David Spalding’s arrival in 2013. Spalding’s first day was Aug. 1, 2013, and by the middle of August, CyBIZ Lab was approved.
“Spalding shared with us that he had two main goals; he wanted to have more businesses engaged with the business college and also for students to have experiences that would help set them apart when they left Iowa State,” Eyles said. “By Sept. 1 I had hired four MBA (Master of Business Administration) students.”
In the fall of 2013, CyBIZ Lab had four student workers and completed two projects, and by fall 2014 there were eight student workers and four projects completed. CyBIZ Lab now hires up to thirty students during a semester and has completed over 180 projects to date.
“Having undergrads and grads working together has worked out so nice, it makes great teams,” Eyles said. “Companies like that we aren’t tied to a semester timeline, and they love our interdisciplinary team business program with the ability to bring in technical students. We understand that different projects have different needs.”
Kutz graduated from Iowa State in mechanical engineering and will complete his Master of Business Administration in December. He learned about CyBIZ Lab through his academic advisor. After talking to a few individuals that worked at CyBIZ Lab, he decided to join.
“I had an ambition to get into consulting, so I got into CyBIZ to see if it really was what I wanted to do,” Kutz said.
There are a variety of projects that Kutz has worked on during his time at CyBIZ. He has worked on projects for several companies including New Product Feasibility, Marketing Alignment Strategizing and a Financial Feasibility Analysis. CyBIZ works a range of companies; some are well established and others are new start-ups.
One particularly interesting project that Kutz worked on was the Financial Feasibility Analysis for a farm in Iowa.
“The company was looking at adding a new processing line for their organization and wanted to know if it was financially feasible,” Kutz said. “This new product line would allow them to further process their product.”
While Kutz could not share the name of the farm or the outcome, he did share that it was in his top three favorite projects.
CyBIZ Lab allows students to work with real clients and have their recommendations implemented within that company. Students present to real leaders and CEO’s within the company and provide them with data-driven solutions.
“CyBIZ Lab is a great experience for any student, especially students in my case that are looking to get into consulting,” Kutz said. “You learn communication, data analytics, presentation skills, and how to overall conduct research. A business hire should be able to find data, understand that data and make business decisions from it. CyBIZ Lab is a fantastic tool for experiential learning.”
Eyles said that CyBIZ Lab is currently recruiting students and businesses for this semester.
“We are looking for students with work experience, that can work well in a team, are comfortable communicating within a boardroom and on a phone, and this may sound weird, but are good Googlers,” Eyles said. “We always tell our students, you have to be comfortable being thrown in the fire; it's a two hour training period and you're thrown on a project.”
Students are expected to deliver “A+” projects and Eyles said it's easy for students to care about the projects because they're solving a real problem for a real company.
Students are compensated for their time and work at CyBIZ Lab. In addition, people from all different colleges work with CyBIZ Lab, which allows for the creation of diverse teams.
“It's the best experience I have had while I’ve been at Iowa State, in a professional sense especially,” Kutz said.