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Learning by Example

by Zach Smith Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My first year in the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research has offered me and my classmates many opportunities to develop and prepare ourselves for our post-MBA careers. A major reason I decided to enroll at the A.C. Nielsen Center was because of the Center’s focus on blending the worlds of academia and industry.  While the courses I take at Wisconsin will help me immeasurably in my career, I will gain even more when I can pair the knowledge I obtain from class with what is actually happening in the marketing research industry. Thanks to the Current Topics course led by Kristin Branch and taken by all A.C. Nielsen students, I have the opportunity to hear from industry practitioners regarding their professional experiences and the trends currently prevalent in the marketing research industry.

Many of our Current Topics discussions and activities are facilitated by our Executive Advisory Board members, who not only make sure that A.C. Nielsen students are kept abreast of industry trends, but who also make sure we know what we can expect as both summer interns and full-time hires at our future employers. A great example of this sort of learning experience happened earlier this semester. Ann Dencker, an EAB member at Hiebing, a marketing consultancy, led a session where students were tasked with constructing a marketing research plan for a new product development project. Far beyond simply learning more about the different types of marketing research that can be performed when developing a new product, we learned how to make trade-offs in choosing which research to conduct, knowing that we had a finite research budget. It was a practical example of a real-life situation that we would all face in our careers. Needless to say, it was great to have the opportunity to practice with a simulated exercise rather than have to confront the situation for the first time in a real-world setting!

A major highlight of my spring semester will likely come later in February, when the A.C. Nielsen Center travels with the Center for Brand and Product Management to visit Orbitz’s office in Chicago. The ability to visit companies to see how they conduct marketing research is another example of how the A.C. Nielsen Center gives us the ability to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. I feel fortunate that the A.C. Nielsen Center gives me an abundance of opportunities to keep up-to-date with the latest in marketing research and prepare myself for my post-MBA career.