One of two student run consulting firms in the country is at SIU, offers unique experience for students


Mary Newman

From left: Michael Justin Miller, 26, of Louisville, Kentucky,and Allysha Kochrnour, 25, of Millersburg Pennsylvania, review surveys Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, at DxR Development Group Inc. in the SIU Research Park. Both Miller and Kochenour are graduate students in Applied Psychology involved in the Applied Research Consultants firm at SIU. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

By Kitt Fresa, Staff Writer

Established first in 1981 as a built in internship for applied psychology students, Applied Research Consultants has had steady flow client work and business ever since its inception.

Applied Research Consultants is one of the two student run consulting firms in the country and is unique to SIU.  

Here, students have been learning while they work in a place where they get first hand experience in the field they want to go into.


ARC typically provides services such as consulting for survey design and survey implementation and runs focus groups, data analysis, report writing, and interviewing.

ARC was started in 1981 by Jack McKillip as somewhat of a built-in internship for the program.

He wanted there to be something for students to participate in where they didn’t have to go off campus.

All Applied Psychology graduate students are now required to spend six semesters including a shadowing semester in the program.

Director of the ARC Kristen Pankey said during their first semester students start off shadowing. But ARC grows their students overtime and by their last semester, students are expected to have led a project, contribute knowledge to the group, and learn skills from other students in ARC.

Part of the goal is that the older ARC associates who have gained that knowledge teach the younger inexperienced ARC associates.

After ARC, these associates typically go on to work in consulting or academia.


Pankey said students in ARC lead projects and apply experience that they are learning in the classroom to real world projects.

“As the director, my goal is to guide the students as they’re working on projects to bring them my knowledge and expertise from the field.” Pankey said.

Pankey was at one time apart of ARC as a student. She went on to graduate with her masters from SIU in Applied Psychology.

She later returned to SIU to direct ARC after being asked to direct by the Psychology department two years ago.

Pankey says she’s brought plenty of her knowledge and expertise from her experience from her time at ARC and in the workforce but she claims the students are the ones who teach each other.

One of those students is Emily Muhoff, an ARC associate from Cleveland that claims ARC has absolutely prepared her for a career in consulting.

“All of the jobs that I’m applying for are asking for years of work experience, ARC is four years of job experience in addition to your degree,” Muhoff said. “That’s definitely an advantage, that’s actually why I chose SIU.”

Muhoff said seeing a project from start to finish makes a difference because ARC allows you to get the full spectrum of working on a project year round.

This is opposed to being only able to complete part of it within a semester as a part of a class.

ARC associate Allysha Kochenour from Millersburg Pennsylvania shared a similar sentiment.

She said in the consulting field, businesses really want a lot of experience before you’re applying for jobs, so minimum three years experience. In ARC you get that experience while you’re getting your degree.

“You don’t then have to go out and start at the bottom of the totem pole when your trying to find a place to work,” Kochenour said. “You can start up higher you can negotiate a higher salary because of the experience you get in ARC.”

ARC associate Vilosh Veeramani from Jersey City said, “Within Applied Psychology we try and think of our career paths in two ways, one in consulting, the other is more academic. ARC has prepared me to be able to work with both.”

Veeramani also said he feels highly supported at ARC. He said if there is ever a project that he can’t easily manage, he has the option of seeing his director and asking for advice.

Director of ARC Kristin Pankey discussed what her career was like after ARC and said, “I think ARC definitely gave me an edge when I left and started looking for opportunities. I’ve had some really cool opportunities and I definitely think ARC contributed to it.”

Staff writer Kitt Fresa can be reached at [email protected]

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