By Trevor Spranger, Class of 2019.
In addition to all the academic rigor and generous resources of the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research, last Spring I also was accepted into the Weinert Center Entrepreneurship Fellowship. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to study entrepreneurship at the Wisconsin School of Business and to further hone my marketing research skills through approaching new markets and dealing with ambiguity.
A crucial part of any business startup or expansion is market evaluation - a perfect role for the market researcher. A wise entrepreneur would conduct quantitative and qualitative research to learn about the size of a potential market, discover market segments, and the particular consumer need for the problem being solved. It also benefits the market researcher to have an entrepreneurial mindset. Without a strategic outlook, what good is the market research? That is in essence the benefit of the A.C. Nielsen Center MBA over a potential business analytics program.
The Weinert Center fellowship has been a perfect fit for my project assistantship at Discovery to Product (D2P). D2P works with campus business startups in helping entrepreneurs find a product-market fit. A large chunk of this is conducting in-depth interviews with stakeholders in all parts of the value-chain. I lead a workshop for campus entrepreneurs in developing discussion guides and assessing consumer segments and value proposition. This role is a unique synthesis of what I’ve learned in both the A.C. Nielsen and Weinert Centers.
Dealing with ambiguity is an all too common hurdle for young market researchers to overcome. But ambiguous situations are an everyday reality to entrepreneurs. Working with entrepreneurs and developing hypothetical business plans in the Weinert Center has made me comfortable working in unstructured environments and embrace the creativity and complex problem solving that can grow out of ambiguous situations. My exposure to this entrepreneurial mindset surely leaves me a more well-rounded market researcher who is appreciative of the external or internal client’s goals and needs.
The Weinert Center Fellowship also represents to me that the University of Wisconsin MBA can be to some extent what you make of it. While the specialization model certainly allows our graduates to hit the ground running day one in their new organizations - I was a bit concerned that I would be limiting myself to a particular role or narrow path. I can assure that this is not the case. Through programs like the Weinert Center Fellowship or MBA organizations such as the consulting club, students can dive deeper into areas of interest or add breadth to their studies to set themselves apart and prepare for a diverse future career growth.
Finally, the Weinert Center has essentially given me a second academic center full of its own support and networking resources. In addition to Kristin Branch and all of the wonderful people on the A. C. Nielsen Center External Advisory Board - I also get all the benefits of the Weinert Center. Dan Olszewski and Lisa Collins are a phenomenal help in career development and are amazing people. The Weinert Center also provides exposure to a career network that geographically and strategically compliments the Nielsen EAB.
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