CLINTON — This week the Hamilton Consulting Club, of Hamilton College, made an offer of free advice and strategic planning to local businesses who are struggling during the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
The idea stemmed from a group of local business owners, community leaders, and Hamilton College delegates, who've been meeting regularly the last 95-plus days since the pandemic closed area shops and dine-in restaurants, searching for solutions to provide relief and stability to those negatively affected by the economic downturn caused by the virus.
Club president Jakeb Camel, a rising senior and economics/math major at Hamilton College, is just one of several students who feel they have the knowledge with new technological and social media platforms to be of value to local merchants.
"Initially, we were focused on preparing ourselves, and other students, for job interviews (after college)," Camel said. "But then later, we came up with the idea local businesses could use our help, and we could get some real-world, hands-on experience if we just threw ourselves into the fire and learned by doing."
Camel explained the students in the club are not just economics majors, but math majors, and computer science majors, hence areas of study beneficial in business strategy and customer service.
Specifically the services they offer might take the form of strategic planning, website design and development, email and social media marketing campaigns, e-commerce sites, and search engine optimization, according to the college press release.
"We understand how to improve a business SEO by using specific words on its website," Camel said. "The key is pooling all our skill sets together."
Camel said students majoring in english and government are also beneficial. Camel admits they might not be able to deliver everything their clients need, but they can promise to work their hardest to help anyone seeking their advice, while at the same time learning more about the reality of small business consulting.
"Trying to figure out what kind of website a person needs," Camel said. "What kind of social media presence a person needs is the main thing people come to us for, helping them reach a wider demographic is a lot of what we do."
Camel said the club tries to make new advertising skills less daunting to those business owners who don't have as much experience with social media.
"We want to show how social media can be a valuable tool," Camel said. "A valuable tool, opposed to a hard to navigate system that doesn't actually produce for them."
Barbara Meelan, owner of The Hedges Bed and Breakfast Inn, said the consulting club helped her and she was very impressed.
"They were wonderful," Meelan said. "They had great suggestions on ways to increase my exposure. Also, they were very professional in the way they followed up on the suggestions they made."
Camel said they usually talk with clients over Zoom video conferencing, but they can just call clients initially if that's a better way to communicate for anyone seeking their help.
Camel said fellow students he's working with in the club most recently are juniors Joseph Reiner and Danny Tsyvin. Their motivation along with gaining experience is to give back to the community.
"Hopefully we can gain some long-term relationships with local businesses," Camel said. "Our hope is it developing into a win-win situation."
If anyone is interested in contacting the Hamilton Consulting Club to they can do so by contacting Camel at firstname.lastname@example.org.