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by Sally Fay

Those who subscribe to the maxim that experience is the best teacher would find no argument at Baruch. In keeping with its mission to deliver a high-value education that is relevant and impactful, the College is embracing the integration of experiential learning into its curriculum. Its most wide-reaching example to date: the business consulting capstone course delivered by the Zicklin School of Business, required for all MBA students. 

Introduced in 2017, the course grew out of an outcomes-based analysis of Zicklin School graduate programs, explains Fred Burke, director of Zicklin’s Graduate Career Management Center, who served on the curriculum review committee. “We asked companies recruiting at Zicklin what they look for in candidates for full-time positions, and what we heard was they wanted more students with experience implementing what they had learned in the classroom,” he says. “Our takeaway was that we needed to give students greater means to develop skills that are marketable in the real world. The capstone course delivers that.” 

The semester-long capstone includes several lectures on relevant consulting topics, such as problem-solving, teamwork, client management, and formal presentations. A significant part of the semester is focused on solving business problems for real-world clients. “Student teams put classroom teaching into practice to define their clients’ challenges and opportunities, identify and evaluate courses of action, and present recommendations,” says Anthony Farina, distinguished lecturer and director of business consulting at Zicklin. A former management consultant and executive at several major financial firms, Professor Farina oversees the team of faculty, staff, and business sector advisors who deliver the capstone program. 

Key to program success is the cultivation of relationships with client organizations whose business challenges become the basis for the student teams’ experiential learning. “We offer an attractive proposition: we’ll give you a team of very smart, very hard-working grad students and they’ll solve a business problem for you and it’s not going to cost you anything,” Farina says. “We’ve had repeat clients for a number of years—Citigroup, UN Capital Development Fund, Lighthouse Guild and Arch Care, the health care arm of the Archdiocese of New York—and I’m very proud of that.” He’s also proud of the team’s success in connecting with small and minority/women-owned businesses. 


Though most client organizations are based in New York, Farina is keen to pursue international opportunities as well. In a joint consulting case in conjunction with a partner university, the Free University of Bozen- Bolzano, last spring, five Zicklin MBA students worked in concert with three Bozen-Bolzano students to consult with an Italian subsidiary of a German white-goods parts manufacturer seeking to increase its U.S. market share. For consulting team member Sophie Haas (MBA ’23), affordable housing development associate at Long Island real estate development company The Albanese Organization, the consulting practicum— which included a week of on-site work in Italy—provided an authentic global business experience. 

Sophie Haas (MBA '23)

Although the consulting case she worked on was unrelated to her field, Haas extols the impact of the capstone course on her professional life. “The topic doesn’t matter as much as the process of doing the project because it’s the skills the process imparts that are the important thing…Those are skills that are applicable in any job, and their importance was magnified by the added challenge of the cross-cultural aspect.” 

Haas’ takeaways from the consulting capstone course went beyond just the acquisition of marketable skills, providing her with rewarding personal connections with her teammates and a new perspective on cross-cultural relations. 


Depending on a given MBA cohort’s contingent of business consulting clients, some students find practicum projects that align closely with their field of professional interest. That was the case for Denvol Haye Jr. (MBA ’22), who, as a financial services communications professional and associate vice president at PR agency Prosek Partners, had developed a strong interest in the uptake and implementation of DEI efforts in the financial services sector. His capstone practicum involved consulting with Baruch’s Office of Diversity, Compliance, and Equity Initiatives to position the Zicklin School to attract more diverse faculty to better serve its student population. 

Denvol Haye Jr. (MBA '22)

Today, Haye is head of communications at the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, a research institute and think tank established by management consulting giant McKinsey & Co. in 2020 as a vehicle for advancing racial equity and inclusive growth. He credits his MBA experience with reinforcing the idea that there was a career opportunity at the intersection of racial equity, economic inclusivity, and strategic communications. 

Haye interviewed for his current role in the midst of his capstone course, and he lauds both the practical skills and wealth of career advice he gained through the experience. The experiential aspect of the capstone course was key to reinforcing classroom learning, he says. 


MBA students have reacted enthusiastically to the business consulting practicum, through which more than 1,000 students have acquired insight into the consulting field while developing and presenting actionable solutions to some 250 real-world business problems for more than 100 unique organizations. A few of the consulting practicum challenges have even become representative case studies in the Zicklin business curriculum, and the team is actively benchmarking employment outcomes to ensure that the capstone is maximizing graduates’ career potential. 

Farina points to MBA graduates’ growing success in landing positions at top-tier consulting firms as one metric of the value of experiential learning. “As an example, McKinsey put together a two-year rotational leadership development program called the BUILD Fellows, which targets recent or upcoming graduates from New York public colleges and universities, and quite a number of our students have been recruited to work there,” he says. 

“I’m eager to talk to the people who run the program to find out how our students are doing,” he adds, “and to see what other things we could do to help our pool of candidates be more competitive for future positions.” 

No Ivory Tower Here!

The Zicklin MBA program isn’t the only example of how Baruch integrates classroom learning and real-world experience. Impactful experiential learning opportunities can be found in the curricula of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs as well. Among current offerings: 

Arts Administration 

Similarly to Zicklin MBA students, students in the Weissman School’s Master of Arts in Arts Administration program engage in a semester of deep consulting work as a culminating feature of their curriculum. “In their role as consultant to an arts or cultural organization, students address a real challenge or opportunity and develop strategies that work within the organization’s budget and resources,” explains David Milch, distinguished lecturer in fine and performing arts and program director since 2018. 

Washington Semester 

In the Marxe School’s Washington Semester, open to master’s students in public administration, international affairs, and higher education administration, participants trade their views of the Empire State Building for the Capitol Dome, physically and intellectually immersing themselves in the world of DC policymaking and public affairs. The program comprises two public affairs–oriented seminars, taught by Baruch faculty with extensive DC experience, and intensive semester-long internships within legislative offices, federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations. 

Publishing Pros 

At the undergraduate level, last spring the Weissman School’s Department of English debuted “Essentials of Publishing,” targeted to English majors interested in a career in publishing. Developed by Professor Timothy Aubry, PhD, department chair, the course delivered a comprehensive perspective on the industry, including examination of the effects of underrepresentation and lack of diversity on the publishing landscape. 

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