Emergency management students work as consultants
Monday, May 21, 2018
NDSU senior Jonathon Fishbeck took the ultimate test on career preparation. Last fall, he and two other students worked as consultants for a client who wanted to collaborate on ongoing business continuity planning.
The client was a committee that oversees NDSU’s animal program, facilities and procedures. The committee wanted to tap into the emergency management expertise on campus for feedback on its business continuity efforts. Business continuity plans help staff prepare for situations where they wouldn’t be able to operate under normal conditions. Planning is critical to protect the animals and viability of the research.
The team knew the project was the biggest test of their college careers. Their client was trusting their expertise to help protect the animals, millions of dollars in research funding and NDSU’s status as a major research university.
NDSU students often work with real clients before they earn their degrees. The hands-on experience tests their ability to put theory and research into practice and prepares them for the workforce.
Fishbeck and his team assessed the client’s needs, reviewed existing plans and toured facilities looking for opportunities to strengthen efforts. Then they spoke with the client about their findings and developed tools to make it easy and cost-effective for staff to implement their recommendations. “We’re not trying to make things harder or increase costs,” Fishbeck said.
The experience showed him the importance of being flexible with the theories and research he learned in the classroom. Real organizations and businesses, for example, may lack the budget to implement the latest and greatest technology or to hire an ideal number of staff. “We know what works and apply it in a way that works for that context,” Fishbeck said. “And it will be different everywhere.”
Fishbeck and his team passed the test. They have a happy client who feels well served and well prepared. “It was a really nice collaboration,” said Josie Hayden, NDSU research compliance administrator. “We needed emergency management expertise, and they had it.”
Fishbeck, an emergency management and construction management major, graduated in May. He will work as a construction estimator for Bilfinger Westcon, Inc., in Bismarck, North Dakota. He is originally from Mandan, North Dakota.