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Get creative: ESP consulting class gets a taste of agency work

January 2017

Elizabeth Jenike

Dr. Jim Friedman’s Entrepreneurship Consulting class is best described as a “deep dive” into brand consulting over winter term.

For three weeks, 24 students served as consultants for the Cincinnati-based agency Curiosity Advertising. Curiosity gave them two client brands - Caribou Coffee and Kandoo, a brand of baby wipes - and tasked them with creating brand awareness.

What does that mean? The tasks themselves were open-ended. The students, who were teamed up in groups of four, could create products, develop brand or ad campaigns, or orchestrate branding shifts. It was an intentionally ambiguous charge that allowed them to go out, do research and come up with creative solutions based on consumer insights and creative thinking.

And that isn’t all. For the first week of the trip, Dr. Friedman took them out of their element in Oxford and placed them in the midst of the creative hive of San Francisco. While there, they heard from the best minds in the creativity business - namely, representatives from companies like Disney, Stanford’s dSchool, Facebook, Twitter and IDEO were all eager to share their knowledge with the fledgling consultants. This first week was a jump-start into the mindset required by their projects, something that got them thinking outside the bubble of Miami and in the real world of creativity.

The meaning of teamwork

The class is only one of the experiential courses offered by the Institute for Entrepreneurship at FSB. But it might be one of the only classes across the Miami curriculum that sees students working together so closely to complete their task during the three-week period - for some, they worked for ten-plus hours a day, seven days a week.

“It was interesting because there’s not a lot of structure,” Meredith Illig, a third-year marketing major and entrepreneurship minor who will be graduating in May, said about the class itself. “You create your own structure. You have to motivate yourself, sometimes getting together at 9 a.m. and working until 10 p.m.”

Working so closely with team members to create an entire marketing campaign and do intense amounts of brand research in such a short amount of time means that everyone has to become very good at working in a team - and junior finance major and entrepreneurship minor Cody Cowgill said that part of the reason he took this course was to get the experience of completing a project like this in such a small window of time.

Key takeaways

Dr. Friedman’s teaching assistant, junior marketing major Amber Hallmann, participated in the class last year as well. She noted that the class is a good experience not just because you’re doing real-world work for real-world clients, but also because putting yourself in these fully immersive situations makes it easier to care about the work you’re doing.

“You’re working hard because you want to truly do well for your client,” Amber explained. “It’s a lot of hard work, but you come out of it a different person.”

She had a unique perspective coming in as a TA this year, since she has now been on both sides of the line when it comes to these creativity workshops.

“Last year it was a real-world experience,” Amber said. “This year, I had a different perspective. I can take what we’re learning at these sessions and apply it in different ways because I’m not applying it to a certain client project. I learned more hard skills.”

Those hard skills, she said, are going to be instrumental in her future career search and personal life, as well.