Presenting to a class of peers is standard practice for most students, and sometimes professionals are in attendance during these presentations. For College of Business students, presenting to business professionals, being judged by those professionals and even having scholarship money on the line, is an instrumental part of the curriculum.

On Dec. 9, 2010, more than 25 business professionals came to campus as guest judges for poster presentations made by over 90 marketing students from both the Marketing Research and Marketing Strategy courses. The students in these two classes do group projects, prepare posters, polish their presentation skills and are then graded by business professionals. The research class often has research provided by corporate partners of the College of Business and the strategy class actually conceptualizes a new product, prepares a marketing plan and presents their ideas.

And on Dec. 14, 2010, eight executives from Target Corp. arrived to view the presentations for the top case study projects done in Professor Sarah DeArmond’s HR Staffing class. Not only did they judge the presentations, they heard ideas that could be implemented in their stores and awarded $4000 to the winning team.

“Target supports UW Oshkosh because, first and foremost, we like to fund opportunities that truly aid in student development. Further, we are always looking to expand our team with great talent, and campus involvement certainly fuels this,” said Wendy Oltman, a field campus recruiter at Target Corp.

This kind of pressure can take its toll. Not only are grades on the line, but scholarship money, and the potential connections that students might use to find jobs after graduation. “This experience has helped me to appreciate the value of HR in an organization. I feel as though I have a better grasp on staffing and recruiting, and believe I would be able to generate new and innovative ideas for a company after completing this project,” said Brett Collien who earned a $1,000 scholarship as part of the winning Target case study team.

According to marketing professor Aliosha Alexandrov, connection with professionals is one of the key benefits for students who take these classes. “There are so many benefits to these sessions. First, it breaks up the monotony of the classes. Second, it exposes the students to business professionals. Professionals come to campus and stay connected with faculty, so it’s beneficial to everyone involved.”

The marketing poster session has been part of the curriculum for seven years. Drs. Bryan Lilly and Mike Tippins started the program in spring 2005 and it was such a great professional development opportunity for students that it is now a required part of the curriculum, regardless of who teaches the classes.

Several of the business professionals are repeat judges and look forward to coming to campus each semester for this event.

“This event is great. When I was in college, I didn’t have the opportunity to put myself in a business situation. It’s fun to see the students doing real world selling, trying to promote a product and trying to create a strategy. And it’s great for them to see a different side from reading books and taking tests,” said Carrie Zoellner from Schenck SC, who has participated as a judge for the marketing poster presentations for three semesters.

Dione Gagnow, from M&I Bank, a four year poster presentation participant, said, “As a business partner, it’s always an added value anytime you can get on campus and meet students and work with faculty.”