To kickstart the new year, LX and BYU hosted two sessions in the BYU/LX Experiential Learning Summit Series. In our first January webinar, we discussed how partnerships can enhance experiential learning projects with panelists Allyson Gibson (External Relations, BYU), Lisa Barrager (External Relations, BYU), and Roger McCarty (Director of Experiential Learning, BYU).
Finding and Retaining Partners
Allyson Gibson and Lisa Barrager kicked off our conversation this month with some key insights into experiential learning partnerships. When working with student teams, a hierarchy of partners and faculty is crucial to providing a well-rounded curriculum that actually prepares students for the real world. To find partners for these programs, they stuck to cold calling and utilizing alumni LinkedIn lists. Searching for alumni on LinkedIn gives you access to an array of companies and becomes a great starting point for cold calls and emails.
Once companies are interested and partners are secured, Barrager stressed the importance of maintaining this collaboration through consistent value proposition. Your projects need to provide results and benefit the sponsors in direct, tangible ways. If the partners are receiving as much value as they are giving, it will last for the duration of the program.
Whether it is a desire to give back to students, to increase opportunities to recruit, to boost name recognition, or to observe innovative solutions to issues, sponsors need to connect with a reason for partnering with your program. Setting these expectations in early conversations and discussing how to boost value for both parties is a critical step to a successful experiential learning program.
Action Steps for Scaling
Roger McCarty continued the discussion with some thoughts on scaling experiential programs after these partnerships are secured. In his time at BYU, experiential learning has grown from a few teams to over 1000 students. He largely attributed this to word of mouth- around two-thirds of students at BYU take on specific campus internships because of recommendations from friends and peers. Because of the influence word of mouth has, it is so important to make sure your partnerships are beneficial to all parties involved.
To grow partners, McCarty echoed that starting with your fans-alumni and recruiters- and creating value proposition was key. After short term success, the partners or sponsors should have the ability to move beyond the bare minimum of creating tasks for students to actually playing a role in the decision-making processes or having more direct action with the students in order to fully monetize the partners and create the most buy-in from partners and students alike.
Our next webinar in the BYU/LX Experiential Learning Summit Series will take place on March 12th and center conversations on assessing professional development and creating experiences that allow students to forget about the grades. Registration links can be found at https://experience.byu.edu/experiential-learning-summit-2020