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Marketing Students Gain Real World Experience in the Classroom

Marketing competition students

You can call it a real world type of final exam.

Rather than a traditional exam filled with multiple choice and essay questions, a class of business students recently put their skills to the test by developing and presenting marketing plans for an autism spectrum disorder fitness center actually owned and operated by an SCSU alumnus.

The students competed in teams, with the best presentation receiving a cash award. The students presented their marketing plans in front of a panel of judges that included SCSU Alumnus Adam Leapley ’94, who founded the ASD Fitness Center in Orange.

The course was taught by Robert Forbus, assistant to the dean of the School of Business. It marks the second straight year in which students enrolled in the course created marketing plans for a business as part of their final exam.

“The practical experience is positive for the students because they have a demonstrable skill and a final product that they show to potential employers,” Forbus said. “They are very cognizant of the need to be able to find employment after graduation. The class experience is an excellent proxy for legitimate marketing work experience.”

Forbus noted that the students are required to learn and perform analysis, synthesis and evaluation. He also said the assignment is high risk and high reward as 80 percent of a student’s grade is determined by their plan – 40 percent for the presentation and 40 percent for the written plan.

Julia Rotella, a member of the winning team, said the course was an incredible learning experience.

“Writing a marketing plan and actually presenting to the client gave us real-world experience in a comfortable classroom setting,” Rotella said. “Having taken this class, I feel much more prepared to graduate and start my marketing career.”

Dedra Leapley, who co-founded and co-owns the center with her husband, Adam, said she had an opportunity to see the presentations, as well as meet with many of the students during the course of last semester.

“I was extremely impressed with the students,” she said. “Their level of professionalism was very impressive, and their presentations were well-organized with a high level of creativity.”