For many Leeds students, the required BASE experience is a chance to see the different lines connecting business disciplines while developing the skills needed to advance their professional development. For Liv Delgado (Bus’22), it was so much more.
BASE—short for BCOR Applied Semester Experience, the core set of business courses Leeds students take in their first two years—is a capstone where sophomores apply what they’ve learned to real-world problems. It’s also where Delgado, a junior who interned with Wiland over the summer, started to doubt whether her accounting and finance major aligned with her aspirations.
“BASE gave me a much broader perspective on marketing and product management,” said Delgado, who changed her degree’s emphasis to marketing after completing the class. “The company where I’m interning does a lot in product and operations management, which I learned about in BASE.”
Professor Laura Kornish, associate dean of undergraduate programs, taught Delgado in BASE, and said her story isn’t uncommon.
“BASE provides an experience for students to explore the ways different business disciplines intersect and overlap, while encouraging their professional development,” Kornish said.
The idea of offering an undergraduate capstone experience level isn’t unique, but BASE takes it to a level few, if any, other business schools approach. The integrative approach—pulling in the entire business toolkit students learn early in their core—is impressive, but so is the faculty commitment. Hundreds of sophomores take BASE simultaneously; the varied nature of the course’s themes means professors do some learning outside their areas of expertise.
“We’re asking students to be fluent in all these business disciplines—both individually and in how they interact with each other—and the faculty model that, too,” Kornish said.
For a course that in the spring had 900 students, professors do a remarkable job personalizing the experience. Caitlin Thompson (Bus’21), a financial advisor with Primerica, said Kornish offered “a great balance of constructive and positive feedback.”
“When you’re presenting to the room, you’re sort of vulnerable, and she always offered you criticism that made you want to improve, and not make you scared to go up there again,” said Thompson, who plans to return to Leeds for a master’s degree next fall.
To help keep students engaged, faculty work with brands local to the Colorado area—including Justin’s and Noodles & Co., both popular with students—on projects like recommending a new menu item, or determining how a product launch failed.
A team at Justin’s sat down with Leeds faculty to share what went wrong with its snack packs, which were discontinued a few years ago; “the students then study the product development process and try to determine what the brand could do differently to avoid that situation in the future,” Kornish said.
"BASE helped me challenge my assumptions about the best solution to a problem while also teaching me the confidence to advocate for my ideas."
- Caitlin Thompson (Bus’21)
Financial Advisor | Primerica
Students repeatedly mentioned the project of creating a new menu item for Noodles as a valuable experience. “At first, you think it’s going to be simple to just propose a new menu item,” Delgado said. “But it really showed you
everything involved with product management, factoring in all the materials that needed to be allocated and the customer perspective.”
Delgado enjoyed being able to bring her marketing expertise to the table while trusting her teammates in finance, operations and other specialties to bring those skills to the table. Those teamworks skills are crucial in BASE and beyond, Thompson said.
“I appreciated the diversity of thought you got when you approached a problem as a team,” Thompson said. “BASE helped me challenge my assumptions about the best solution to a problem while also teaching me the confidence to advocate for my ideas.”