The A.C. Nielsen Center, like the other specializations within the Wisconsin School of Business, offers a class each semester called Applied Learning. In this class, students have the opportunity to further engage with their industry, learn skill sets beyond the course curriculum, as well as apply what they know to real life challenges and situations. The A.C. Nielsen Center provides an excellent array of activities for student participation and learning. This spring semester we had an Applied Learning class that allowed us to practice how a market researcher would need to create and manage a research budget given the company’s strategic direction and challenges. To make an awesome activity even better, we got to create a research plan for a chocolate company!
In order to prepare for the class, each student was assigned prep materials where we could learn about the company, their strategic initiatives, and the various types of research the company was interested in for the upcoming year. The prep materials also provided the budget that the research plan had to stay within. After we read through the materials, we were to submit a research plan that met budget constraints and be ready to discuss our plan in class.
The day of class we walked through the various research options possible and discussed why or why not you may have included that research option in your plan. It was one of the best class discussions we have had in class. Even though there was some overlap in decisions, it was eye opening to hear the thought process students used to come to their decision. I learned so much more about what a researcher should consider while creating their plan. It was intriguing to hear opinions from students from different backgrounds and those who interned at different companies. The multitude of decisions one could make in regards to the research plan was impressive. One of the main takeaways was that there isn’t necessarily a “right” answer but you need to be able to explain and defend your choices.
As an MBA about to graduate and reenter the workforce, this activity was one of the best that we participated in during Applied Learning. This activity is what I will be required to do once I am with a company; I will need to be able to successfully balance a budget but still obtain quality insights to drive business decisions. I will always be faced with decisions regarding what to keep and not keep, or the extent to which the research should be completed. This was a very realistic activity and I am appreciative that I could practice this much needed skill set in a safe environment. The only negative of the session, which might be my own personal opinion, was that I couldn’t help but think about eating chocolate the entire time.