Monday, January 30, 2012

Douglas College Marketing students get real-world experience

Marketing students Bill Wu (l), Rachel Yigit (r) and Kristin Parsons (2nd from r) presented research and recommendations to Ernst & Young. Pictured with David Moulton, Marketing Instructor, and Brooke Morris, Ernst & Young's Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications.
It’s not every day that students get the chance to bend the ear of senior leaders at one of the biggest professional services firms in the world. But three Douglas College Marketing students got that chance – and wowed the bigwigs – at Ernst & Young.

Last semester, David Moulton, an instructor in Marketing, approached Ernst & Young about engaging students in his Professional Services Marketing class in an experiential learning project. The firm responded, and laid out what it wanted: for students to come up with positioning ideas for its Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, and ideas on which organizations it should target and join in order to better connect to its entire market.

Eight students divided into two teams took part in the research and presented their findings in class. Then three students went to Ernst & Young’s headquarters and gave their report to the senior leadership team. One of the presenters, Bill Wu, says getting the chance to work with Ernst & Young was “incredible.”

“Experiences like this are so valuable to graduating students like me,” says Bill. “Theoretical knowledge can only get you so far in a job hunt, and what interviewers are looking for are solid results and real experiences, which is exactly what I got from this project.”

Brooke Morris, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at Ernst & Young, says senior leadership was impressed with the presentation and surprised at how well the students understood the firm’s business, given the timeframe of the project – roughly eight weeks – and the fact that they were “on the outside looking in.”

“We really liked how when the students presented an idea, they supported it with research and evidence to back up why it was a good option,” says Morris. “Some of their ideas were new and some we have explored, which also suggests to us they were right on the mark.”

David Moulton says he advises the student presenters to include this experience in their portfolios.

“You’re actually building your resumé while going to school,” he says. “This has credibility in the marketplace; it shows people what you can do.”

He also points out that it was an invaluable opportunity for students to do a professional-level presentation to a group of people who are “inundated with other businesses and organizations presenting to them.”

“To get the feedback from people who are in business day in and day out, and hear them say 'good job' is a big compliment to students.”