Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University
Carey Business School Community Consulting Lab
The Community Consulting Lab is a business accelerator program that pairs Carey Business School students with minority-owned small businesses in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region to help the businesses overcome complex challenges and grow through innovation.
Call to Action
The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Community Consulting Lab was established in 2017 as an opportunity for students to hone their business skills through practical, real-world experience by helping local businesses in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region—particularly small businesses, nonprofits, and minority-owned firms.
Through firsthand experience, students develop key consulting skills, such as business communication, client engagement, effective teaming, and strategic problem-solving with empathy. Diverse teams collaborate with community partners to deliver solutions with impact, grow local economies, and take on the most challenging needs in underserved communities.
Students are paired with local businesses to help the local entrepreneurs and business owners tackle their most pressing challenges. The six-month, pro bono engagement empowers students to use their classroom learning, apply it to the problems and opportunities at hand, and help the business owners plan and implement changes by functioning as business consultants.
Community Consulting Lab students are coached and mentored by faculty and local entrepreneurs, and the business owners participate in weekly skill-building workshops that focus on finance, marketing, legal issues, and staff development. “I was able to learn important client relationship-management skills, project management skills, and strategic online marketing,” said one student. “Not only did I gain confidence in my abilities, but I was able to speak to this experience in interviews, helping me land an education consulting internship and my current full-time position at the public sector consulting firm right here in Baltimore. Ultimately, I’m proud to have assisted an incredibly worthy nonprofit startup in my community. That experience is why I decided to study at Carey.”
Student work has already had an impact through the Community Consulting Lab. Student teams working with local businesses pivoted their projects to address more urgent COVID-19 concerns of their clients—specifically minority business owners who struggle to access capital or process applications for government funds. A group of Carey students working with Umuko Coffee, a socially equitable and single-origin coffee company, refocused on production implications in the wake of healthcare concerns over COVID-19 in Rwanda. Carey students were also working with the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on a new fee structure. But when the pandemic began and the SPCA was forced to temporarily close its shelters, the Carey team quickly shifted to launch a new marketing campaign and helped place all of the animals with fosters or adopters.
While the experiences are meeting their goal of positively impacting local businesses, they are also leaving their mark on the students. “We contributed knowledge in class to real-world business. This project enabled us to learn how to apply lots of philosophies to practice,” said Su Theerametharutsiri, 2021 MBA graduate and member of the Community Consulting Lab SPCA team. “And the result is much more meaningful than just a letter grade. The experience is unforgettable.”