HEXA Consulting, organized by six undergraduate students at the University of South Florida, is now offering cost-free consulting services to businesses in the Tampa Bay Area in what they describe as a win-win partnership: Students gain résumé-building experience in their field while their clients receive professional-grade consulting at an unbeatable price.
HEXA is the first Florida chapter of Junior Enterprise, an international organization rooted in youth entrepreneurship, that was founded in France in 1967 and made its way to the United States with the creation of Junior Enterprise USA in 2016. Junior Enterprise groups, currently established in 44 countries worldwide, operate as student organizations within the university or business school with which they are affiliated.
At USF, the Colleges of Business, Engineering, Mass Communications, and USF Career Services offer direct support to HEXA's student consultants.
"As a student organization, we're backed by everything the university typically offers its student organizations. That includes funding, access to rooms at Marshall Student Center, and support from professors who can help connect us and provide guidance," says HEXA President Isabella Marques.
Marques notes that HEXA -- the name of which is a nod to the six students who founded the consulting group -- originated within the Brazilian Student Association at USF as a way for international students to earn professional experience prior to graduation.
"Because international students in the U.S. often have a difficult time finding internships and getting professional experience before they graduate, our idea was to provide a way to earn experience, and prepare students for their careers with things they can put on their résumé," Marques says.
"We provide cost-free consulting services in the fields of engineering, marketing, and finance to clients in the Tampa Bay area -- usually small businesses that don't have the means to hire a big-name consulting service. … In doing so, we get a lot of professional experience and we're able to apply what we learn in class to real-world projects. We wouldn't usually get this in an internship, but the beauty of HEXA is that we're not just interns -- we really lead the whole operation," she notes.
Since its establishment in February, HEXA Consulting has grown from six to 17 members, including students from Brazil, Pakistan, and the United States. The group aims to further diversify its international membership as it continues to develop, but in the meantime, Marques says HEXA is adjusting to the "new normal" of the coronavirus pandemic.
"COVID-19 has obviously affected us because we can't meet in person, but because of virtual platforms like Google Hangouts and Zoom, we can still hold meetings. Right now, we see even more people who are in need of our services, because we're offering them for free at a time when small businesses might not be able to spend as much money," Marques says.
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