Students gained valuable experience for their résumé and earned three credit hours in a Special Topics: Lincoln Industries (MRKT 490) course at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business. In a scenario much like an internship, 25 students worked with the management from Lincoln Industries on specific business projects. Their work culminated in a series of presentations to a panel of judges on April 25, which a representative from Lincoln Industries later reviewed.
Taught by Rob Simon, associate professor of practice in marketing, the course delivered an experiential, hands-on learning experience. Students focused on helping Lincoln Industries’ marketing department by identifying new opportunities to grow their business. Students split into five teams and interviewed decision makers and purchasing agents from different industries. Simon believes the course provides the right amount of challenge to students to help them develop their marketing skills.
“I like to say we want them to fail, at least initially, because that is what will happen in their career. It helps the students develop grit or resilience to failure and learn how to redirect their energy to find a solution,” he said. “One key to the course is the students get strong constructive feedback from business professionals that they learn from. They also get experience giving constructive feedback to each other.”
As a judge and former professor of the course, Steve Welton, lecturer at the university, knew the amount of work students put into it. He looks at the course as something that poses a real-world problem upon the students, giving them the experience of going through the same process a business would.
“The students put in a tremendous amount of hard work to accomplish their goal. They gained valuable information from top management by whatever means necessary, whether that be through LinkedIn or calling them directly. It is a daunting task for students, but these teams handled it well,” Welton said. “The biggest thing I would impress upon students would be to speak to what the audience wants to hear, instead of what you want to tell them about your work. They care that you did the work, but more about how it will help them.”
Making the most of his final semester at Nebraska, Zach Spellman, a senior marketing major from Lincoln, Nebraska, utilized this project to develop valuable connections with established professionals.
“This course gave me a deeper understanding of the supply chain processes necessary for organizations to identify and pursue new suppliers. From conducting our interviews, I learned about the communication needed for the business world and how critical it is to foster and be open to meeting new people,” he said. “The hands-on experience allowed me to develop and learn critical information about marketing and the benefits it provides for organizations.”