Consulting: Clemson Student Edition!

An inside look at Pearce Center’s Client-Based Program


The Client-Based Program matches Clemson classes with local clients who need communication deliverables. Through the program, students gain communication skills that teach them how to creatively problem solve through writing, setting and achieving reasonable goals and building confidence in themselves and their abilities. Since 2003, over 167 classes, 5,200 students, 30 faculty and 325 clients have been a part of this program, producing over 1,006 deliverables. These deliverables span a range of different mediums, from brochures, research reports, websites, to multimedia presentations, print advertisements, etc. Clients include nonprofit agencies, public schools, corporations and University departments. The clients meet with their teams regularly to provide constructive project feedback and create a reciprocal relationship with the students. The majority of the program’s advertising is done through referrals from previous clients and word-of-mouth; returning clients make up 80% of returning partnerships.

This semester, Professor William Cunningham and Professor Ashley Fisk are overseeing various projects that their students are undertaking for clients. Jasmine Road leadership has asked Cunningham’s class to “write two Greenville High School Spirit Week grant applications. 

Professor Will Cunningham and his class pose in the Summer Smith Taylor Conference Room with their client, Jasmine Road.

“These are mini grants’ that are highly competitive among the different participating Greenville High Schools. Jasmine Road last won a Spirit Week grant in 2020, so they have asked us to try and infuse ‘new life’ into the narratives for these applications. There is a writing component and a digital media component—most of the students will be working on the grant narrative while a few students with experience in graphic communication will be designing a brochure,” said Cunningham.

For Fisk, two of her clients are Healthy Campus and the Office of Teaching Effectiveness. Her students are “addressing the issue of mental health resources to provide resources that students will want to reach out to or be a part of and to normalize a culture on campus that will allow people to talk about mental health. The solution will fix these issues in part as Canvas is available to all Clemson students and will allow visible access to everyone that needs it, combined with the social media platforms used by the majority of students that will promote that information to everyone quickly. We can create a hub for all resources necessary, especially to those hard-to-reach students who won’t go out of their way to be open and honest about their mental health,” said Fisk. 

According to the Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, “teaching staff exercise the largest positive influence on student satisfaction, and professors’ behaviors and attitudes are primary determinants of students’ satisfaction in higher education. By providing professors with insight into students’ perspectives through surveys and a discussion panel, we hope to increase professor’s awareness specifically regarding students’ mental health, which stems from their generational differences. We hope to meet teachers where they are regarding their generational misconceptions and misunderstandings around mental health — we hope to have professors unlearn current stigmas and perceptions. By providing faculty with a greater understanding of the newer generations, we can help faculty meet current students’ needs in education and personal needs.”

All of these projects allow the students to apply the skills they have learned in the classroom to real life situations, in which they have the opportunity to make a real impact on their community, and future communities, for generations to come.

By: Kylie Snyder