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September 14, 2020

JCCC Student Agency connects students with clients for real-world experience

(From left to right) Whitney Bandel, faculty mentor, and student contractors Anna Baily and Ann Linnebur are excited to work with clients through the Student Agency.

JCCC students in a variety of career programs such as Graphic Design and Web Development and Digital Media  are graduating with more than an education. Through JCCC’s Student Agency, they’re also taking with them a portfolio of real-world experience.

The Student Agency provides area small businesses with creative services such as websites, videos, branding and social media. With the guidance of faculty mentors, students work with a business under a contract to help meet their needs. Clients get a professional product that solves a problem; students build a portfolio and make connections.

The client fee pays the students and faculty for their work, and also funds scholarships. “The Student Agency has the potential to engage with many of the career programs at JCCC, providing those students with important experiences in their fields,” says Vince Miller, Dean of Academic Support.

“We’re looking for self-starters – people who want to push their skills to the limit, grab opportunities and run with it.” James Hopper, Web Development and Digital Media professor

Win-Win for Everyone

“The Student Agency gives you a rare opportunity to get your foot in the door while you’re still learning your trade,” said Rees Alena, who completed his associate degree in Web Development and Digital Media in spring 2020. Through the Agency, he and fellow student Alex Tate designed a website for the Kansas Center for Business Transition. KCBT is a partnership between the College and the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC)  that helps small business owners transition their business to new ownership.

Tate has a strong background in web design and print but came to JCCC to become a full-stack web developer. Creating the KCBT site allowed him to get digital design experience, as well as a little income. “When you’re part of Student Agency, you want to be there. You want to do great work and go above and beyond,” Tate said.

Real Clients, Real Projects

Jack Harwell, a Kansas SBDC advisor, works with small businesses who often bid for and use the Student Agency services. “There’s a lot of love for the College among business owners. They’re always looking for ways to help students,” Harwell said.

Potential clients contact the Student Agency to develop a scope, cost and contract for their project. Students then consult with the client to learn about their problem and create a solution using best practices. Area business owners often seek out the Student Agency because they want an affordable service and to help students launch their career. Faculty are contracted by the Agency to mentor students on a project-by-project basis, and the overall Agency is managed by the Academic Support Division.

James Hopper, Web Development and Digital Media professor, has been involved with the Student Agency since it began in 2018. “We wanted to give students a way to partner with a client to build their portfolio. ‘Here’s the client, budget, timeline and goal – now what do you need to do?’ Employers really want to see how a student works with clients. Being part of the Student Agency is the perfect opportunity.”

Students – Get Involved!

If you’re interested in expanding your skills and growing your portfolio through the Student Agency, you must have completed at least 12 credit hours in a related discipline with a GPA of 2.5 or higher in those courses. You also can be recommended by a faculty member. “We’re looking for self-starters – people who want to push their skills to the limit, grab opportunities and run with it,” Hopper said.

Contact the Student Agency by email or at 913-469-2522 to learn more about participating.

Faculty Mentors Wanted

The agency also is looking to add faculty mentors in a variety of subject matter areas:

  • Accounting
  • CTE programs
  • Graphic design
  • Web design
  • Videography
  • Branding
  • Social media
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

If you have passion for your craft, want to guide and coach students, and have extra time to mentor students, the Student Agency invites you to work with them. You’ll receive financial compensation for your time. Email or call 913-469-2522 to learn more about getting involved.

Companies interested in talking with the Student Agency about a project can submit a request.