Many college students work in teams. Many engage in project-based learning. Some apply and test their knowledge, skills, and values by engaging in consulting projects, working on problems/questions given them by businesses and non-profit organizations.
Many times the students are advised by a faculty member, only ONE faculty member, their professor. But professors, even if they have Ph.Ds and years of work experience, have limited knowledge and wisdom. Their perspectives and perceptions are based on and biased by their own unique experiences. Think of the fable of the blind men and the elephant. Each of us is “blinded” by our own point of view. Thus the quality of students’ consulting work is limited by the professor’s and the students’ particular experiences (or lack thereof).
Here’s how wise practitioners add value (help us see the “elephants”):
- Give insight into the client’s problem/opportunity
- Give insight on the internal workings of the student team
- Give insight on the consulting process
- Give insight on the academic program
- Give insight on what is holding us back!
Engaging alumni and friends in the education process is part of our not-so-secret sauce.
Asking them to advise (consult) our student consultants on intra-curricular and extra-curricular projects is just one way to do that.
And the best advisers do that simply by providing analogies and asking insightful questions.