Do you know what Junior Enterprise (JE) is? What about JADE? Does Brazil Junior ring a bell? Chances are, if you’re not living in Brazil or Europe, you’ve never even heard of Junior Enterprise. Let’s change that. Right here, right now.

Junior Enterprise is a confederation of undergraduate student organizations which specialize in consulting primarily within the business and engineering domains, depending on the chapter. Originally, Junior Enterprise was started in France, where some chapters have been working as the French equivalent of non-profit organizations for over thirty years. Yes, every member on the administration board or working as a consultant is either an undergraduate or less than a year out of university, but in every other way, Junior Enterprise chapters are businesses. The officer team is a board with a CEO, CFO, etc. and teams of HR, communications and marketing personnel. Junior Enterprise chapters work with real businesses such as Quicksilver and McDonalds. Business chapters offer consultations, market studies, etc. Engineering chapters work as consultants making websites and making databases. Junior Enterprise benefits both the JE chapters and companies involved because it provides company with cheaper labor who will work hard to do a good job while also giving undergraduate students relevant work experience on a variety of different projects. JADE and Brazil Junior has made a difference to thousands of undergraduate students.

UIUC Junior Enterprise members Skyping with ESCadrille.

Within the past year, two different North American Junior Enterprise chapters have begun. One is located in Montreal and the other one is at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I can proudly say that I am one of the first members of Junior Enterprise in the United States and I think that the meaning of this statement grows day by day. At Illinois, our Junior Enterprise is called CUBE Consulting (Champaign Urbana Business Enterprise). We have projects working with the university’s sustainable farm, the Orpheum Science Museum for kids, and creating our own website (so there’s no website yet, but you can go like our Facebook page!). Everyday CUBE Consulting is growing and taking more steps towards becoming an established Junior Enterprise chapter that will someday work with large scale companies.

Last Tuesday, I helped advance CUBE Consulting one step further. I visited Westminster Business Consultants (WBC) of the University of Westminster in London. By pure happenstance, I stopped by on the same day as two members of ESCadrille, the Junior Enterprise from Toulouse, France. Ironically a week prior, these same members had Skyped with my JE chapter in Champaign. This provided me with the wonderful opportunity to ask questions of two very established chapters of Junior Enterprise that I know will assist CUBE Consulting as it continues to grow. I asked them on advice for recruitment of students and projects. JADE is not as established in the UK as it is in France, so WBC had a lot of good advice for us such as using professors and students to spread the word. ESCadrille has a lot of experience with working internationally and also had suggestions for us to use Skype and also have part of our business development be focused on partnerships and international relations.

CUBE Consulting’s logo.

Junior Enterprise is not just another club for undergraduates. It is a business, a corporation. Students involved receive hand-on experience within the working world that matters and makes a difference for companies. Both WBC and ESCadrille said that they most rewarding part of what they did was when they looked back on all they had accomplished in one year. I don’t know if we’ll have accomplished a ton of projects with big names with in a year at CUBE Consulting, but I think that will happen someday. For now, our big accomplishment is being the first Junior Enterprise in the US and second in North America (Kudos to MUSE in Canada for beating us!). I look forward to seeing where it goes and giving future undergraduates this opportunity which will improve the quality of their engineering education.

WBC members who met with me last week.

Also, the Junior Enterprise members from WBC and ESCadrille were some of the nicest, friendliest people I have met while I’ve been studying abroad in the UK. I loved getting know them and enjoyed sharing dinner with them. I hope to continue working with them to connect them with UIUC as well as talking with them and becoming friends. I also really want to meet more Junior Enterprise members just as friendly as they are. I’ll be visiting JADE in Brussels at the end of spring break, but I would love to meet more while I’m on the main continent during the first few weeks of April. If you’re a JADE chapter in Europe interested in connecting with the first Junior Enterprise in the US, please shoot me an email at bakies2@illinois.edu. I think it would be a great way to see the world and make friends while continuing to grow and learn all around Europe! In the meantime, please familiarize yourself more with Junior Enterprise and let us know if you’re interested in any consulting. Thanks!

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