Maya Mercer wanted to delve deep into the marketing field and find her place. To do so, she needed hands-on experience to bring her future to fruition.
After considering changing her marketing major, one of Mercer’s mentors, Rich Claussen, ’82, encouraged her to talk with Rob Simon, associate professor of practice in marketing at the Nebraska College of Business. After meeting with Simon, she found a commonality between her needs and a class Simon would be teaching, Special Topics: Ameritas Marketing Class (MRKT 490).
“I had no idea what to expect from the course. I knew I wanted to be in a position where I frequently could be creative, come up with new ideas and present. This class ended up aligning perfectly,” explained the junior from Nebraska City, Nebraska.
In the course, students worked together in teams to act as consultants for Ameritas Life Insurance in Lincoln, Nebraska. They also met with top management from Ameritas, including Josh Everett, vice president of strategic partnerships and innovation, and Brent Korte, chief marketing officer. The groups examined specific business projects the insurance company analyzed and then presented solutions to panels of senior leadership based off research conducted by the students.
“I had never been in a position before where I'm analyzing a business, creating solutions and new products. This class was the first time I had ever done that. So learning and understanding all the different facets you have to cover to propose a solution was not only cool, but gave me the ability to be creative with that too,” said Mercer.
Mercer stretched her creative thinking during the course and ended up presenting an idea Ameritas took to the next level of consideration. She suggested the implementation of a toothbrush that tracks data from brushing sessions to increase revenue from dental plans. The company found a potential use for her idea and to Mercer’s surprise, allowed her to test out the toothbrush for the insurance company.
“I spent time informing Maya’s team on the well-being efforts at Ameritas. From there, the team really took the effort forward to find, discuss and engage in a conversation around the digital and tech-enabled toothbrush,” said Everett.
Working with the groups frequently, Everett witnessed several benefits for Ameritas by engaging in real-world projects with college students. The amount of research and understanding the students achieved within a short time period impressed Everett.
“We had some very bright minds in that class. The opportunities they connected and brought together were very interesting in several cases. It helped solidify my idea that it is not about a point solution but an eco-system of solutions,” said Everett. “We gained several great ideas and opportunities that were not in our purview prior to this class. The teams helped build on our overall wellness strategy and were able to provide insights, information and discussion from others outside of the Ameritas network. And that is a really valuable tool.”
Mercer credited Everett for her growth due to his critical feedback during each project. As she progressed in the course, her analytical and presentation skills continued to advance.
“Josh’s feedback was so thorough. Every little thing we did, he would tell us what we could improve and how we did. It was cool to see that perspective because you don't always get a business world perspective when it comes to academics. Whenever we had an idea, we shared it with him and he would tell us what direction to take it to make it actually work. He just kept pushing us through and gave us advice on how to make our projects as good as they could be,” stated Mercer.
With current ambitions of working in the marketing field as a business or data analyst, Mercer believes this course helped her take that next step towards achieving her goals, wherever they may land her.
“The course helped heighten my analytic skills and look at the big picture of a company. I was in a marketing role last summer and I only saw marketing, nothing else. But with this course, I was able to see all the areas I would be affecting by making certain decisions,” she said.
To learn more about the marketing major and its courses, visit: https://business.unl.edu/marketing