What is STAR?
STAR stands for Student Teams Achieving Results. It’s an action-based, experiential learning program that provides consulting experience to students by engaging with corporate partner clients to address current business challenges similar to the way a major consulting firm conducts a major engagement.
Who can participate?
The STAR Program is offered to select undergraduate and MBA students including MBA@unc and the Executive MBA Programs.
What are the different STAR options?
- STAR USA
Projects are based in the United States. The Corporate Partners may be based in North Carolina, the U.S or multinational but the project focus will be within the U.S.
- STAR Virtual
Projects are conducted in either the United States or outside the U.S. Team meetings are conducted virtually to accommodate students in different geographic locations and the Corporate Partner who could be located anywhere.
- STAR Global
Projects are global in nature. Corporate Partners are U.S. based, multinationals or are based in another country outside of the United States. Team meetings are conducted on campus and virtually with the Corporate Partner. There is a two-week, semester-long in-country experience in May when the final presentation takes place.
What is the role of a Project Leader?
Project Leaders provide direction and guidance for the team on all aspects of the project and serve as a primary contact with Corporate Partners and the Faculty Advisor. The Project Leader sets the agenda, conducts the weekly meetings, organizes the presentations and manages the overall project. Only MBA students are selected to serve as Project Leaders.
How do I apply?
STAR Student and Corporate Partner Applications are available online. Be prepared to identify your industry and functional areas of interest in the application. There is also an essay question or two.
When are the applications due?
The deadlines vary for MBA and Undergraduate students. Refer to the Timeline on the website for specific dates but applications are generally in the October – November time frame.
Can I choose the individual project I want to work on?
No, but when you apply, you should indicate the type of project you think you would be best suited for, are most interested in and highlight functional skills or industry experience you are hoping to gain through the course/project.
When will I know what project I have been assigned?
In late November, you will get a notification letting you know if you've been selected for STAR and assigned to a project. We will inform the Project Leaders first. If you are not selected as a Project Leader, you will be placed on a STAR project as a team member.
How are decisions made around forming the STAR Teams?
The STAR Program leadership team uses the student applications to create teams and will take into consideration student interests and experience as well as other variables such as gender and nationality in order to create diverse and cohesive teams. We appreciate that students recognize we will do our best to accommodate the student goals and preferences but we cannot guarantee a certain role or specific corporate partner.
Once I get to know my team, am I able to request to switch teams in case I find another project more interesting?
The STAR leadership team is responsible for creating the teams and cannot accommodate all of the requests expressed in the application process. Please recognize that the STAR program is an experiential learning program for class credit. If you have a concern with your assignment, contact one of the STAR Program Directors, Professor Nick Didow or Professor Karin Cochran.
Can I apply in the second year of the MBA?
STAR does allow for 2nd year MBA students to apply. We want to make sure that you are fully engaged and have the time to dedicate to the program.
Pricing / Fees
What financial obligations are there to participate in STAR?
STAR USA and STAR Virtual projects do not require an additional financial commitment on the part of the students.
STAR Global requires an additional program fee of USD$1,500 plus roundtrip travel expenses (airfare) to the destination country in May. When you accept your assignment, a USD $500 non-refundable deposit is due. The final balance will be due mid-December or January.
Will I have to pay out of pocket expenses for anything?
STAR projects may require students to pay for travel expenses or printing costs up front and will be reimbursed during the semester. STAR will provide training on how to be reimbursed. STAR is also working on how to improve this process.
Course Credit and Prerequisites
When is the course held, and how much credit does it earn?
Currently, the STAR Program is only held from mid-January to May with the bulk of the work conducted from February to the end of May. MBA and Undergraduate students receive 4.5 credit hours for the spring semester from January to May.
Are there any prerequisites?
STAR recommends that students take Consulting Skills and Frameworks (CSF). If students have not taken this course but are selected for STAR, there will be mandatory training on Friday, January 19th in advance of the full day Launch weekend on Saturday, January 20th. Friday’s session will be only for those students have not taken CSF before. Saturday’s session will be for everyone.
How much time does it require to be on a STAR Project?
Students are expected to commit 10-12 hours per week from January to May for the STAR Program. It is a semester long class. While STAR begins in January, team leaders are expected to begin in December. Launch Weekend is January 19-20 for all STAR students and Corporate Partners. Saturday, January 20th is the main required, all day session. Some students will need to attend on the evening of the January 19th if they have not taken CSF before.
How do I coordinate my STAR project with my overall class schedule?
Each team determines the team meeting schedule at Launch weekend. Please be prepared to dedicate at least 10 hours a week to the course. The time may vary over the semester / two mods but most teams meet twice a week.
STAR Global-Specific questions
Do I need to be able to speak the language of the STAR Global country(ies) to which I apply?
No - the goal is to have one team member on each team who has lived and worked in the country where the project is based, or at least one team member who is very familiar with the language and/or culture of that country. But, if you bring something else to the team, e.g. industry or functional area expertise, you will not need to speak the language or be familiar with the country.
Can I choose the destination country I want to work in?
You can state a preference in your application essay or video. The STAR Program leadership will try to accommodate but cannot guarantee a match.
Corporate Partner Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the application deadline?
Corporate Partner application deadline is October 6th. We encourage you to apply as early as possible that way we can be in search for students with the background that your project requires.
What does it cost financially for my company to participate?
For STAR USA and STAR Virtual projects, Corporate Partners contribute USD $25,000 plus expenses. The estimated expenses amount is USD $5,000. So, the STAR USA and STAR Virtual Corporate Partners should budget USD $30,000 in total.
The STAR Global projects are a bit more complex so the fee is USD $30,000 plus expenses. The estimated expenses amount is USD $15,000. Please budget USD $45,000.
What is the staff commitment expected from my organization?
Corporate Partners commit at least two senior managers to work with the team over the course of the project. One member needs to be present at full day Launch Weekend to work with the team. At least one company representative will be required to work with the team for the duration of the project (mid-January thru the end of May). During the project, company representatives can expect to interact weekly with the team during the virtual phase and 8-10 hours per week when the team is on-site.
When would our company receive the final presentation and project report?
Your team will do a final presentation by the end of May and at that time will present final project findings and recommendations to company representatives at a mutually determined date and location. The STAR team will provide the Corporate Partner with an electronic and paper copy of the final presentations. STAR USA presentations can take place at Kenan-Flagler or on the Corporate Partner’s location.
When will I know if my project has been accepted and matched to a student team?
Matching of projects and teams will take place in October and November and you will be notified of results by late November. If the STAR Selection Committee is able to assign a team to you, you will be asked to commit, in writing, to the terms to which you tentatively agreed when you submitted your application.
Can I ask my team to sign a Confidentiality / Non-disclosure Agreement?
If you are accepted into the STAR Program, you and Kenan-Flagler Business School will execute an Agreement in which UNC Kenan-Flagler will be required to: (1) maintain the confidentiality of any information you disclose to UNC Kenan-Flagler as part of the STAR Program, and (2) use the same degree of care it uses to protect its own confidential information when handling your company’s confidential information. In addition to these contractual obligations, UNC Kenan-Flagler can sign a separate Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) if you require it.