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Applied Professional Experience

In the Applied Professional Experience Program (APEX), Smeal students take on real business projects for client firms. By applying classroom knowledge to actual business challenges, students sharpen their professional abilities through impactful experiential learning. In return, their clients benefit from the fresh perspective and analytical skill of a talented, motivated team.

Consulting Teams

APEX teams are comprised of either second year MBA students or of undergraduate seniors from Smeal’s Sapphire Leadership Academic Program. Clients are matched with either an MBA team or a Sapphire team depending on their preference and the needs of the project. On a typical project, each team of 4-5 students will invest between 450-550 hours of effort.

Along with their own skills, students have access to the vast resources offered by Penn State University. From our nationally renowned faculty to our vast alumni network and world class library system, APEX teams can access a wide variety of resources and expertise to support their efforts. Each team is supervised by the APEX Program Director who provides guidance and assistance to the team.

Real Problems. Real Value.

During their time at Smeal, our students have prepared themselves to tackle complex, cross-functional business problems. And that is exactly what we look for in an APEX project. In tackling these problems, APEX delivers real value to our clients by conducting a competitive analysis of the situation and by providing clear and actionable recommendations.

In addition to a robust business challenge, we're looking for projects that impact our society. Whether it is through enabling job growth and business expansion, the development of sustainable business practices, bringing green technology to market, or enabling the mission of a non-profit, we're looking for projects that enable our students to serve society as well as the participating firm. 

How APEX Works

During the course of the project, teams interact with the client through meetings, e-mail, phone calls, etc.  The intent is to create an effective collaboration that will produce results with real value for the clients. In addition to the team’s final presentation and deliverables, APEX teams typically create a number of "in process" deliverables to ensure appropriate progress is being made and to allow for client feedback.