Students and faculty alike recognize the power of hands-on learning. Student engagement with content presented in class brings the material to life, drives the content deeper into students’ consciousness and is just more fun. Therefore, any chance to encourage students to participate in outside activities that challenge their understanding, creativity and abilities rises to the top of my “to-do” list.
One such opportunity became available in the fall semester through The Council for Retail and Sales (CRS), a nonprofit organization that brings together retail academics, students and practitioners; and the management of Sherwin-Williams, The Americus Group, Eastern Division. Taking the concept of “The Apprentice” television series, the two co-sponsors applied it to a collegiate competition in retailing.
The competition involved regional college students, including a team of four from Sweet Briar College. The challenge was for the teams to create a plan that focused on increasing sales in the residential repaint segment. The teams were judged based on the written plan, a store visit and the presentation of the plan. Students prepared the project during the Fall 2018 semester and presented their plans at the competition held on Nov. 6, 2018, at Penn State Lehigh Valley.
Olivia Byrd (from left), Caroline Thomas, Margaret Lamphier Meier and Lizzie Foos with Tim Schauer before leaving campus for the marketing contest in November 2018
Our Sweet Briar College team, consisting of Caroline Thomas ’19, Olivia Byrd ’19, Lizzie Foos ’20 and Margaret Lamphier Meier ’20, finished in second place, winning with a compelling marketing plan and presentation. After their presentation, students had a chance to meet with job coaches and recruiters for retailers such as Sherwin-Williams and Walmart. Ultimately, Caroline Thomas accepted a position with Sherwin-Williams in the company’s auto paint division.
Events such as this one do, in fact, bring together retail academicians, students and practitioners. Students’ skills are honed and tested, academicians assess students’ competence outside of the classroom, and employers get to see firsthand students’ creativity and depth of knowledge.
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Timothy Schauer is an associate professor of business at Sweet Briar College. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Immaculata University and his master’s and doctorate in business administration at Liberty University. This semester, he is teaching Social Media Marketing and Marketing Research.