Undergraduate Students Partner with Local D.C. Businesses for Final Projects

Chaia Tacos Store Front

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When undergraduate Georgetown McDonough students were given the opportunity to partner with a local, D.C. business Chaia Tacos, they had an important question to answer:

“What strategic changes could benefit us in the long-term?”

Jasmina Chauvin, assistant professor of strategy, economics, ethics, and public policy, was always impressed by the opportunity for graduate students to work on consulting projects with real companies. In collaboration with the Georgetown University Office of Engagement and the Georgetown Business Improvement District, Georgetown McDonough undergraduate students were provided that same opportunity in the 2021 spring semester. In Chauvin’s core strategic management course, students had the opportunity to work in teams in partnership with local D.C. businesses to address some of their toughest business challenges. 

Each semester students collaborate to identify a strategic question for a business client — and also offer a series of strategic recommendations to improve business performance.

“Working with Chaia provided an awesome experience to work with a real client! By setting up client meetings, having introductory calls on project scope, and presenting our findings to management at the end, we were able to gain client-facing skills that we will definitely use in our postgraduate work,” said Zachary Hankin (B’21).

Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon founded Chaia Tacos, which is a female-led, female-run business. It all started from a stand at a Washington, D.C., farmer’s market and has expanded to their first location in Georgetown. Students provided recommendations on better efficiencies in their kitchen, whether to consider adding meat alternatives to their menu, and which venture capital groups might be the best fit to partner with.

“Every time we work with a group of students there are always nuggets of insight that we get to learn from,” said Stern. “I really respected all of these students who engaged, asked pertinent questions (no question is too small or silly), and who wanted to learn as much as possible about our business.”

Undergraduate students were typically offered fictional businesses or scenarios for their final projects, but Chauvin wanted to use the graduate model of using an actual  business to show that nothing can replace this kind of experiential learning. 

“There is nothing more satisfying, especially as an instructor, than to witness your students take what they learn in class and apply it directly to their client’s needs,” said Chauvin. “I am continuously impressed with the quality of their analyses, presentation skills, and the intuitive solutions presented to their clients.”

If you or your organization are interested in learning more about working with Georgetown students, please contact Sean McGilley, director of corporate and external partnerships at engage-msb@georgetown.edu.