New Resource for Local Businesses

WWU introduces the Business Resource Center

By: Becky Beddoe

Walla Walla University has seen a lot of changes in the recent past, including a name change taking effect September 1, 2007, when it officially exchanged the title “college” for the more accurate “university.” Another exciting change is the presence of a fabulous source of information and support called the Business Resource Center (BRC) located within the WWU School of Business.

 

Opened in the spring of 2007, the BRC is the beginning of a dream come true for Virginia Detweiler, Director of Applied Learning at WWU. The BRC was Detweiler’s brainchild, and she could not be happier that it is finally happening.

 

“After working with students who were voluntarily helping businesses in town, I saw how much the students were learning and how much what they were doing helped the businesses,” says Detweiler. “I decided we needed to make this opportunity more available to our business students and make it a real program.”

 

The BRC is run by a group of hand-picked business students in their junior and senior years at WWU. The students are overseen by several business faculty members, including Detweiler, as well as volunteer local business owners.

 

The BRC is a place where undergraduate business students get a chance to practice hands-on the skills they are being taught in their classrooms. It is a unique experience that is usually exclusive to graduate studies and internships.

 

Detweiler has done extensive research on programs similar to the BRC in the United States, but has met with very little success.

 

“I’ve been looking but I have found very few opportunities of this nature in the undergraduate world,” says Detweiler. “That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, I just haven’t found them yet.”

 

During the summer, the BRC employs only three students. When the school year starts, Detweiler hopes to have as many as 8-10 students working to help local businesses. She also hopes to see that number grow each subsequent year.

 

Through the BRC, students help businesses with accounting, finance issues, human resource management, and marketing projects. Students with different specialties work together at the BRC to help businesses during startup, while they struggle with growth, or with unique projects. Students work on their own, but they are also mentored very closely by business faculty and community volunteers to ensure accuracy and quality of work.

 

“I wanted to go into marketing,” says Kristen VanRaden, a recent graduate of the WWU School of Business. “Here at the BRC, I get a chance to do some of that. I get a lot of opportunities here that aren’t really available to me as far as jobs go in this valley.” VanRaden was the first employee of the BRC, and graduated in 2007 with a degree in business administration.

 

Contrary to what one might think, the services offered at the BRC are very affordable. Though they receive no funding from WWU, the BRC keeps their costs low because they are not out to make a profit.

 

The main goal of the BRC is to provide students with hands-on experience that they can take into the real world after graduation. Working at the BRC is an eye-opening and enjoyable educational experience.

 

“I know a lot more now than I knew a month ago,” says Janelle Walikonis, senior international business major. “You learn a lot. And the cool thing is you can apply at the BRC what you learn in class. You put yourself in a learning environment, so when you go out in the world, you already know how things work.” Walikonis has been working for the BRC since shortly after it opened.

 

“Our ultimate goal is that we get a reputation for doing really good work in the community and that the community looks to us as a place to come for help,” says Detweiler. “We also hope that the community sees our graduates as excellent people to hire.”

 

For more information on how you can utilize the services the BRC has to offer or to learn how you can help support the BRC, call the WWU School of Business at 509-527-2951 or email virginia.detweiler@wallawalla.edu.

 

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