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April 19. 2013 4:25AM

Working in a real-world classroom


Seniors in a Marketing Workshop capstone course at the University of New Hampshire's Paul College hosted an outdoor marketing fair on Thursday to promote eight businesses and organizations they have been working with on marketing strategies since the spring semester began. (GRETYL MACALASTER/Union Leader Correspondent)

DURHAM - On the lawn of Congreve Hall on Thursday, University of New Hampshire seniors in Peter Masucci's Marketing Workshop course were doing their best to entice other students to learn more about companies and organizations they have been helping to promote since January through lively music and free food.

Marketing Workshop is the senior capstone course for Paul College students majoring in marketing. The students work in teams for an entire semester on a real-world problem provided by real companies and organizations.

Since 2005, students have completed more than 70 projects.

This semester, five for-profit companies and three UNH departments were selected as clients, including Boston Therapeutics of Manchester, Chiptole Mexican Grill, Enterprise Rent A Car, ziftr.com, TurnRight.com, UNH Athletics, UNH Campus Recreation and eUNH.

During Thursday's outdoor marketing fair, students were putting their newly developed marketing skills into action by promoting their clients' products and services while preparing for jobs in the "real-world."

James Mistovich, 21, of Londonderry has been working with Boston Therapeutics, creators of SUGARDOWN, a tablet that helps moderate blood sugar spikes. His team held focus groups and conducted surveys to learn how college students were responding to the product.

"There's lots of real world applications that have been valuable," Mistovich said.

Justin Pleadwell, 22, of Newfields was busy helping students fill out questions for mentors for TurnRight.com, a Cambridge, Mass. based start-up working to link students with career opportunities, internships and business mentors. Pleadwell said the fair is good preparation for working on trade shows or other outdoor events, and a good resume builder as he prepares to enter the job market after graduating in May.

"The idea is to give them a real world marketing experience before graduating," Masucci said.

Students spend the first half of the semester researching the problem and the latter half of the semester executing a marketing strategy, including press releases, social media campaigns and running an event.

"The best thing that could happen is to better position them to get a job," Masucci said. "I get emails from kids that tell me the experience in this class can make the difference. That's what makes me go home and feel good about what I did in the classroom."

Masucci said the course also offers multiple benefits to businesses through connections with young people, because those young people can help them better target the important 18-to-25-year-old market and come with energy and new ideas. He said he has a waiting list of businesses eager to participate.

Jordan Thomas, 22, worked with a team to promote Ziftr.com, a brand of FreePriceAlerts.com focused on a social shopping application that helps consumers compare prices online.

He echoed comments about the value of having a real company to work with, a real problem to solve, and real money to work with to make a marketing strategy happen.

"They expect results, updates and a project at the end, how you used the money and how you are going to make them better and more profitable in the future," Thomas said.

Jon Hampson, vice president for business development of FreePriceAlerts, said the company is committed to the state's "Stay, Work, Play" initiative, and working with UNH through its internship program or Masucci's class is a great way to attract students to stay in New Hampshire upon graduation. Ziftr.com has already hired three of their former interns as paid staff.

On May 7, students will make their final, formal presentations to their clients at Holloway Commons.


gmacalaster@newstote.com


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