Students Gain Hands-On Experience in Marketing Through MKTG 495

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One of the greatest things about the University of Indianapolis, according to Assistant Professor of Practice in Marketing Carissa Newton, is the hands-on experience students are able to get through their coursework. One of these classes is Marketing Strategy (MKTG 495), and Newton, as well as Director of Graduate Business Programs Eric Harvey and 1999 UIndy graduate Crystal Grave, recently worked to create a workbook for these students to use, according to UIndy 360

Harvey said the School of Business had no social media presence when he was appointed as the Director of Graduate Business Programs in 2020. He said he knew this needed to change, so he hired Grave to begin working on the workbook. When he interviewed Newton for her position, Harvey said he wanted her to take on this class as part of her courses in order to bring the School of Business to social media.  

“We didn’t have a LinkedIn—which is where business people operate—we didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, either,” Harvey said. “And so I had this project in mind where we would really try to launch through those channels to connect to our School of Business alumni, to our current graduate student body and our undergraduate student body.”

Newton said the class has a variety of different jobs the students’ can take on, including copywriting, analytics and graphic design. Harvey said the students have been successful so far in connecting the School of Business with alumni and industry professionals.

“The students in the classroom are managing the whole process as a marketing agency, and they’re developing the content,” Harvey said. “They’re deciding what the themes are going to be each month, they’re doing the interviews of alumni, building the posts, and then they’ve got project managers assigned to different roles that are doing different parts of the work.” 

Newton said she has always been passionate about making sure whatever she is teaching is something her students will find valuable when they are searching for a job. She said it can be frustrating for employers to take a risk on an applicant that does not have experience, and that she does not want her students to be in that position. 

“That’s one thing that I try to incorporate in all of my courses—I want them to walk away with some type of tangible experience, to say, ‘I can now do a social media campaign,’ or, ‘I can execute an email marketing campaign, I know how to build a marketing plan,’” Newton said. “It’s hard, because a lot of the marketing topics, when you go through a degree program, you can hear lots of academic information, you can participate in the classes and learn the science of marketing but, unless you’re really doing it, it’s very hard to go right into the workforce and be prepared.”

Marketing is a constantly evolving field, according to Newton, which is another thing she emphasizes in her classes. She said it is important for every student to become a lifelong learner and for them to constantly seek out new opportunities to learn—even after college. 

“If I looked at my marketing career, when I started in the early career all the way to today, the only reason I knew some of that stuff, and what I do today, is because I was just a constant learner, I was always seeking out certifications,” Newton said. “I was always learning what trend was next and trying it out. I think that’s important for the students to just have that instilled in what they do every day.”

The School of Business is very excited to embrace this opportunity for students, according to Harvey. He said this class is probably one of the best opportunities in the country for students to gain hands-on, applicable marketing experience. 

“We’re very excited because it’s my feeling that this is probably one of the most complex and complete applied projects anywhere in the country, being done in the classroom by students,” Harvey said. “They’re doing real business work. They’re doing social media marketing on a live platform, operating as a marketing agency, and you would really have to do that in a job anywhere else. But because we have this platform, they’re able to get the experience in the classroom and I think it’s probably the best opportunity in the country to do that.” 

Newton said she is also looking for opportunities to expand this type of applied learning to other departments at UIndy, as well. She said she is always looking for ways to help other departments benefit from the things she and her students are learning throughout the class.

“One thing that I love about it, and I would love to do, is offer it to other departments as well,” Newton said. “I’ve had conversations with [other departments] like … ‘I’ve got all these students that I can teach real-world things, how can we help you be more effective or do more with what you have to do?’ So if it’s you in the marketing [department] in general, or if it’s other departments or schools, we could potentially help because we’re right here on campus, and we know the brand, we know the information and the students are anxious to learn.”

Photo by Allison Cook Students in the Marketing Strategy (MKTG 495) class get together for a picture showcasing the work book created by Assistant Professor of Practice in Marketing Carissa Newton, Director of Graduate Business Programs Eric Harvey and 1999 UIndy graduate Crystal Grave.

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