a small group of students study together with laptops and whiteboards at a table

Inspiring Students to Put Academics to Work

Industry partners share their knowledge and experience through Paul College’s ground-breaking Business in Practice Program

f you have expertise in your industry and passion for sharing that with others, UNH’s Paul College of Business and Economics is recruiting adjunct instructors for its Business in Practice Program.

Known as BiP, the program was created in 2018 to keep students up to speed on the tools, techniques and skills desired by employers in today’s rapidly evolving world. Tapping into the knowledge of industry professionals, BiP stacks on top of the core curriculum two-credit courses that help students develop skills most in demand by employers – skills such as analytical intelligence, communication, collaboration, emotional intelligence, and leadership.

“What makes BiP ground-breaking is the scale and scope of the partnership with industry professionals,” said Neil Niman, faculty director of the program. “These adjunct instructors – many who are UNH alumni – are co-designing and delivering one-of-a-kind courses enabling our students to see firsthand how business principles can be applied to achieve real-world outcomes. Over the past three years we have grown to offer more than 60 courses to 2,300 undergraduate business students.”

BiP takes Paul College’s experiential, practice-based learning model to the next level, going beyond internships, case studies, guest speakers and senior capstone experiences offered by most business schools.

According to Niman, the “BiP experience” is substantially different from the core curriculum. Courses take an active learner approach with the instructor’s own experiences shaping the content and projects that become the foundation of the course. Students learn from instructors and put into practice new tools and techniques while getting feedback from professionals in the field.

BiP has partnered with professionals from companies such as Amazon Web Services, DOMO, Facebook, Fidelity, HubSpot, Morgan Stanley, Vera Bradley, Wolverine, and Zillow to offer classes, a sampling of which include How to Talk Stocks, Product Licensing, CRM-Salesforce, and Designing Solutions for Social Impact.

Headshot of Isabel Cieslar
“My experience with my BiP course was nothing short of amazing. My instructor, Krystal Hicks, always shared her experiences as well as the misconceptions and truths about the job. You can truly gain a vast amount of knowledge and insight into your future.”
— Isabel Cieslar ’21
Hicks ’07, founder and career strategist at JOBTALK, teaches the course, College to Career: How to Stand Out in Today’s Job Market. It helps prepare students for a recruiter’s process, helping them outline steps and build skills to stand out in their internship or job search.

Through a LinkedIn connection with Hicks, Laura Barnard, founder of BREAKTHRU BRANDS, discovered the program and is now in her second semester as a BiP instructor – last semester she taught face-to-face and this semester remotely from her home in Chicago.

“Krystal posted something, and I said ‘You’re teaching this class in the business program? I would love to explore potentially teaching.’ That was my foot in the door,” Barnard said.

While living in Concord, N.H., last spring, prior to relocating to Chicago, Barnard reached out to Niman and Jennifer Chagnon, associate director of BiP, and they initially brainstormed how her expertise in branding and marketing could be built as curriculum and bring value to students.

As a lifelong athlete, youth sports coach, and business leader, Barnard, like many other instructors, had no formal teaching experience. No problem there. The BiP program provides professionals with mentoring to get started, an instructor’s guide to help them build their course, and a student guide to assist with administering the class and give feedback on what might resonate with students.

The essential methodology is to unlock an industry professional’s tacit knowledge and reconstruct it into a 7- to 14-week student experience. Active learning and projects are employed to create an environment where students can take risks, learn from failure, ask candid questions, and build a rich portfolio of experiences and skills.

Barnard’s company, BREAKTHRU BRANDS, is a branding agency that empowers purpose-driven leaders to inspire change. She as challenged with how to translate what she does every day with her clients into content that is relevant for college students.

“Neil said, ‘Just treat your students like you would your clients and take them through the process.’ It was just switching the lens,” Barnard said.

The course she teaches, Personal Branding, takes students through a reflective approach to identify the strategies and tactics for building and managing inspired personal brands. The experience culminates in the creation of a customized Personal Brand Playbook for each student to think creatively and critically about who they are, what they stand for, and how to, according to Barnard, “package up their own brand so they can have more impact on the world.

Headshot of Laura Barnard
“What I see as a real opportunity for students in this class is to build their communication skills. To practice the art of listening, active engagement, and storytelling. These are soft skills in high demand. They learn to answer the question, ‘What is your story?’”
— Laura Barnard, Founder of BREAKTHRU BRANDS
What advice does Barnard have for other professionals looking to teach?

“Be authentic, bring your experience, and bring your passion. They don’t want you to fit what you know into this perfect little curriculum box,” she said.” What I love is the flexibility to explore and be creative. There are many universities where BiP might not work. But Paul College has an innovative spirit. It’s created a great partnership with the business community that teaches students new skills that will set them apart.”

To learn more about how to get engaged with the Business in Practice program, visit the website businessinpractice.org.