Beyond the Classroom: Learning Through Real-World Experience
Real-world experience is an essential way for business students to apply their academic learning beyond the classroom–and working with business leaders to provide that experiential learning is essential.
At the Barowsky School of Business, learning is personal, practical, and highly experiential for each business program. “Our faculty knows that personalized and hands-on experience is the gateway to new opportunities and lifelong lessons,” says Dean Sam Beldona. “But in order to provide that real-world experience, we need involvement and support from business leaders in our community.”
Today, Barowsky students are benefiting from a growing circle of the school’s strategic business partners, who work to support and engage in these real-world learning experiences.
“One of our key supporters and connections for this work right now is Thomas Jung, a member of our advisory board,” says Dean Beldona.
Thomas is a nationally successful business leader, as well as an ardent supporter of the Barowsky School. He brings his own years of experience and success in the business world into his engagement with students.
“I love being a part of the Barowsky School community at Dominican, and my relationship with the community there is really mutually beneficial,” says Thomas. “Whether it’s being on campus for a business school event, or bringing student interns on at my company, I’m giving as much as I can – but I’m also receiving so much from my interactions and work with the community there.”
Like today’s business students, Thomas learned from firsthand experience throughout his college and business career.
Starting out from his family’s auto repair shop in Marin County, he went on to earn an MBA at Harvard Business School, and to build and develop a number of multi-million dollar ventures. “The successes in my career really built upon each other,” says Thomas. “It was about connecting my existing experience with new opportunities, and then doing the work to follow through.”
For Thomas, the powerful potential of experiential learning was evident in his earliest business ventures. As an MBA student, a research project led to him to launch his first successful venture: an online CRM platform for automobile companies. Just out of business school, he helped to develop and sell the product to major clients, including BMW, Lexus, Toyota, and Subaru.
“Within 18 months on the market, it was purchased,” says Thomas. “It was fun, fast, and a big success!”
Over the years since then, Thomas followed a path forward as new opportunities opened up and his work evolved – leading and growing several innovative companies in the automobile industry. Today, he is back in Marin County, and working as CEO and co-founder of AdvantageTec, a texting SaaS solution for car dealerships.
When he connected with the team at the Barowsky School of Business in 2011, the opportunity was evident to begin investing his energy back into his local community and the next generation of business leaders. “There was so much to offer these young business students,” says Thomas. “I share both as an individual from my own business experience and expertise and as a part of my current business with its own opportunities and connections.”
Since then, AdvantageTec launched an annual internship program with students from the Barowsky School of Business.
Interns are brought into projects and meetings across all areas of the company: operations, engineering, marketing, and sales. “We want interns to have a unique opportunity, really understanding the many different aspects of our work,” says Thomas.
As a result of the program, one of those first interns is now an operations managers at AdvantageTec. Ryan Williams ‘13 was brought on as an intern in 2011, and soon hired onto the team as a full-time employee. This is one of many great outcomes of experiential learning – when a student experience evolves directly into professional opportunities.
Thomas, who once attended kindergarten at Dominican University, still delights in his ongoing connections with the community here.
He is a key participant in Barowsky School events, like the MBA Boot Camp and the Rapid Innovation Challenge #BSB3D. Plus, students and faculty often spot him on campus for special events, like the school’s guest lecture series and the annual Move-In and Convocation days. “I really enjoy taking part in campus events and being a part of the Dominican community,” says Thomas.
Likewise, faculty and students enjoy the support of Thomas’s insights and involvement.
“His influence in our business community is evident – both as a strategic advisor for our school and as an enthusiastic supporter of our students,” says Dean Beldona. “When it comes to hands-on learning, Thomas really understands and champions that as one of the Barowsky School’s core values. That contribution is invaluable.”