The Gary J. Sbona Honors Program

The Honors Practicum was started 8 years ago to best prepare our top students for the business world by providing them with an opportunity to get real on the job experience as part of their college curriculum. The program was designed as a win-win situation in that participating companies get our top students to do much needed projects at no cost to them! In addition, the program provides firms with the opportunity to preview our best students for possible future employment. Three years ago, the Program was adopted by the College of Business to include all four departments Ð Accounting & Finance, Marketing, MIS and Organization & Management. As a result, we now have the flexibility of providing teams of students from multiple disciplines as well as departmental specific. Most recently, Gary J. Sbona, a San Jose State College of Business Alum and successful business man, has agreed to sponsor the program and has committed a substantial amount of money to support the program and promote its expansion to global dimensions.

The way the program works is that the professors do the student selection process which includes a review of transcripts, resumes, a written essay and a face to face interview before selecting students for this class. Students are evaluated for their academic results as well as prior work experience, school activities, and their ability to communicate both orally and written. The average student in this class has had a 3.5 GPA, 2 plus years of work experience, and were involved in at least one or more extracurricular activities either on or off campus.

The program for the Spring semester begins the last week of January and runs through the last week of April. In the Fall semester, the program runs from the last week in August through the last week in November. Students will be provided to companies in groups of at least 3 or more and will be expected to work approximately 8 hours each per week on the project. Projects can be of any type, much the same as the real world where teams of employees are selected to work on badly needed projects. Ideally, projects would require students to use their critical thinking, technical skills, research, diversity and teamwork to mutual advantage. It would allow them to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real world problem and come up with an innovative solution. The project should not be “busy work” or tasks performed by paid interns. The professors and students will go over the proposed projects with the companies to clarify issues and come to mutual agreement. Each project should have a specific deliverable, either in the form of a report, power point presentation or what ever the company decides would be most useful to them.

Past projects have included value chain analyses; product to market timing and issues; benchmarking procedures and reporting; Sarbanes Oxley implementation; manufacturing efficiency studies; market research; impact of social responsibility on stock price and trading; new employee training module; automated loan screening and approval tool; internal audit procedure evaluation; cost accounting system analysis and recommendations; etc. As you can see, the topics are diverse and challenging.

Firms who are participating or have participated in the program include: Hewlett Packard, Applied Materials, Cisco Systems, Bausch & Lomb, BEA, BayBio Consortium, Bridge Bank, City of San Jose, Silicon Valley Bank, Subaru, Heritage Bank, Abbott, Stringham & Lynch, National Semiconductor, Agilent Technologies, Frank Rimerman, Creative Labs, Electroglas, Tecan Systems, PLX Technology, Calpine, VNUS, The Health Trust, Intuit, Sun Microsystems, Seagate, KLA-Tencor, Adobe, the FBI, the CIA, Symantec, Target, SETI Institute, Perkin Elmer, Accenture, Yahoo!, the SF 49ers and others.

Feedback from participating firms has been excellent. Feedback from students has been ecstatic. If your firm is interested in participating in this program, please let us know at your earliest convenience what topics you might have that need doing and let's set up a time to get together and discuss them. Ultimately, we will need a one page data sheet that briefly describes your company, the project and the deliverables. We will give these to the students on the first day of class, where choices will be made as to who works on which project.

Please contact Bill DeVincenzi, Program Director, if you require additional information. Phone: 408-924-3488, or, preferably by email at william.devincenzi@sjsu.edu.

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