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In some classes, what students are studying can impact more than just their grade point average.

Classes across the undergraduate schools leverage connections with resources outside campus and enable students to gain real-world experience in different sectors.

Director of Career Services Patricia Rose said, “The experience can be very valuable for students, particularly for those who may not have much work experience.”

“It gives them the opportunity to interact with professionals in another setting,” Rose said. “The work under the supervision of faculty can enhance what’s being learned in the classroom and also demonstrate how students can apply their skills in new areas — this demonstration can prove valuable when the student is writing a resume later.”

In Wharton, the required class Management 100 pairs teams with nonprofit clients in order raise awareness and funds for the client. In Professor Americus Reed’s “Consumer Behavior” class, each semester presents a different real-world client, and students are expected to present a marketing strategy.

Last spring, students drafted a plan for Microsoft’s release of the Windows Phone. Clients from previous years include Nike and L’Oreal.

Opportunities for these classes at Penn are available in diverse fields other than business, including nonprofit, healthcare and technology.

The Netter Center coordinates Penn partnerships with Philadelphia nonprofit organizations to give students experience through Academically Based Community Service courses, which have expanded in offerings and enrollment in recent years.

“We think that a large number of students who work with the Netter Center during their time at Penn end up going into these fields,” ABCS Coordinator at the Netter Center Anne Schwieger said.

However, she said regardless of career sector, “the insight and development that occurs during ABCS courses, whether by developing the concept of yourself as a person civically or your role in a community, these things can be implemented successfully in the broader society.”

Students in the Nursing School have the opportunity to work with healthcare institutions around Philadelphia in developing innovative strategies and solutions to healthcare issues and problems in “Innovation and Applied Technology in Healthcare.”

“Nurses have ideas about healthcare and how to improve the healthcare setting, and we have full access to the healthcare system here across the full spectrum,” said Nancy Hanrahan, the professor who is teaching the course. “We want to give students access to the setting by having projects which work as a solution to a healthcare challenge by teaming up with these institutions.”

Hanrahan said she is constantly looking to partner with more insitutions around Philadelphia and hopes to offer more similar course offerings.

“We are showing nurses how to be entrepreneurs and solving problems in healthcare with other solutions,” Hanrahan said. “These are all real-world problems, and this program can become a portal for students to move out into the real world.”

For Engineering students, the prospect of gaining insight from leading practitioners in potential future careers can be a valuable experience in the career exploration process. The Engineering Entrepreneurship minor is one program that students find to be useful in gaining this additional exposure.

Director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor Tom Cassel said, “When constructing lectures, we talk to practitioners in the field to make sure from an applied point of view that it works.”

Cassel said the program also brings in various speakers from different industries to talk to students in the course.

“While we are focused on academic emphasis, the course is also about understanding how technology comes out of the lab and move into marketplace,” said Engineering professor Jeffrey Babin, who teaches the course and is an associate director of the program. “It involves how companies are perceiving these technology.”

Engineering senior Elizabeth Rubenfield said, “It is always useful to get multiple perspectives, and having the opportunity to listen to highly respected individuals is extremely valuable.” She added that the different non-academic perspectives from the speakers were eye-opening.

Engineering students also get the opportunity to interact with outside companies through their Senior Design Project. All seniors in Engineering are required to complete a project.

“Companies become their clients, and students end up acting in a consulting capacity,” Cassel said. “The clients’ input is highly regarded in the final grading, with respect to the students’ diligence in their approach to the client’s problem.”

While these classes must strike a difficult balance teaching students and delivering value to clients, there is an intrinsic value in creating them for students.

“I believe that in any partnership, there’s always a constant navigation,” Schwieger said. “We are always navigating and it’s all about constant high-quality communication between partners — both entities are constantly evolving.”

Ultimately, students value the experience they get from this exposure.

“I feel that the more real-world experience that one can get via classes the better,” Rubenfield said. “More partnerships with companies and clients would definitely supplement classes to give a more realistic feel of the different work fields.”

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