Saturday, February 16, 2013

NIU Interactive Students Bridge Theory/Practice Gap





We strive to create opportunities for our students to interact with companies and create real-world experience for our students.  The picture above shows a student actively networking at our Spring 2012 Internet Marketing Conference.  Last semester our Marketing Technology students worked with real-life clients like Ideosity, a web development company specializing in manufacturers with large online product catalogs to manage,  Allworld Machinery Supply, Inc. and the Department of Marketing at NIU to plan, develop and implement Paid Search and Social Media campaigns for these clients   Former Students Kalli Bravos and Tim Yapp are working at Ideosity and Allworld respectively and they wanted to come back and work with the students and learn something themselves.

We always take a strategic view of these issues, so after analyzing the competitive environment, search trends and the company's unique positioning and core strengths, the students last semester made practical suggestions to improve their clients websites.  The clients really appreciated the feedback and made changes almost immediately so they could benefit from the advice. Students then developed AdWords and social media campaigns which they implemented and measured.

Our class was even written up on Yahoo! News for our efforts.  All the clients were so happy that they agreed to come back this semester for more help and insights.  In addition, the students are helping out our own Interactive Marketing Program, which offers a Certificate in the area and teaches students paid and organic search, social media, email marketing, web site usability and testing and other real-world digital marketing skills.

This semester we are taking things a step further.  Each group right now is working on a targeted paid search campaign with a custom landing page linked to Google Analtyics as well as AdWords.  So the students will be able to provide even more analyses of their campaigns.  The students are learning how to work with IT departments to get custom landing pages put together and how to get the code that Google Analytics needs on these web pages.  I am sure they will find these skills valuable in their careers.

The second half of the semester, students will write a comprehensive social media plan for their client as well as a personal campaign for themselves, particularly highlighting how they will use Linkedin to help them in their job search.  I was just listed in the top 1% of all viewed profiles of Linkedin, so I hope this shows I am qualified to teach this material.  Of course, there are two million other people in the same category!

 Stay tuned for more news about our class and let me know if you have any questions or want to know how to hire our well-qualified graduates.  Our Internship and Job Fairs are next week and I have included a link to more information if you want to sign up.  Over 175 employers will be attending the Job Fair alone and our Interactive Students popular (we have an 85% placement rate) so don't delay getting to know these talented folks.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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