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Course Provides Real World Experience for Business Students

April 2, 2020

Each year, students in Professor Ron Sicker’s Promotions Management courses create a fully integrated promotional campaign for clients, developing creative materials and an implementation strategy. Promotions Management is part of the suite of community-engaged learning courses, which work with partners in the Rochester community to strengthen students’ academic learning and professional preparation while providing mutual benefit to a local organization.

The Promotions Management course encompasses the study of marketing and promotional tools, while giving students the opportunity to assess the appropriateness of various promotional tools in fulfilling specific objectives.

Sicker uses community-engaged learning to help facilitate the learning process and reiterate concepts discussed in class. He challenges teams of students to develop promotional plans for organizations in the Rochester or surrounding community. Each group is responsible for meeting with their client to understand their needs and develop a plan to meet those needs.

Through participation in the course, students gain practical skills applicable to the business world, particularly in advertising, and students walk away with a solid addition to their résumé.

“Employers want people with experience,” Sicker said. “Doing a fully integrated promotional campaign gives students experience that they can talk about during interviews.”

Jeremiah Boerman ’21 and his group are working with Nativity Preparatory Academy (Nativity Prep), a charter school in Rochester. The school aims to provide underserved students with a more focused education; extended school days, study sessions, individual tutoring, and three meals each day to help students accelerate their academic process. Nativity Prep also hosts Saturday sessions for further learning and field trips in order to enhance the students’ learning experience.

Throughout the semester, the group met with John R. Mattia, president of Nativity Prep, to help the team understand its business concern and form a secure line of communication to ensure everyone is on the same page as the project progresses.

At the end of the semester, the group will present their plan to Mattia. The team’s goal is to create content with enough substance that the institution sees value and would like to implement their plan. The ultimate decision will be made by Mattia on whether or not to implement their ideas.

“This class offers up a chance to see what real marketing looks like in the field. In this setting, you have very real deadlines, relationships to be attentive to, and your team’s credibility is on the line. We are breaking down barriers to what life looks like after college by giving students the chance to see it before taking that big leap,” said Boerman. “This class works on all the essentials such as communications, creating a structured plan that benefits the client, and executing an idea in a way that improves the overall standing of the business we are partnered with.”

With the course transitioning online for the remainder of the semester, students from the class will learn to manage a team project where all members are working remotely. The students will be able to learn lifelong skills to bring with them into an ever-changing business world that is increasing its use of telecommuting.

Students will continue to engage with their groups via the technologies available to them, including Google Drive, FaceTime, conference calls, emails, and texts. To culminate the transformative learning experience, the teams will have a video conference via Zoom with Sicker and their client to present their final fully integrated promotional campaign.

“They will get creative on how to communicate and how to collaborate to ensure the project is a success,” said Sicker. “It is something that they will have to learn as they progress through their business careers, and they are fortunate to be learning the skills early in life. I guess it is true that necessity breeds innovation. Having the students acquire these skills is a bright spot in an otherwise very turbulent time.”