The University’s American Marketing Association (AMA) chapter hosted students from five other universities and six guest speakers for their 1st Annual Regional Conference in Charles Commons last Saturday.
The event also included a case competition, in which student teams presented a marketing plan that addressed the needs of MindSumo, a career-building service founded by Keaton Swett, a 2011 graduate of Hopkins.
“It was nice to actually be able to use what we’ve been learning in the classroom,” Britta Nissen, the vice president of membership of Towson University’s AMA chapter, said.
A team from Shippensburg University took home first place, while two Hopkins teams earned second and third place. Three other Hopkins teams competed in addition to two teams from Towson University and Slippery Rock University each and one team from Carnegie Mellon University.
AMA faculty advisor Leslie Kendrick said that although Hopkins students did not earn the top prize, she was pleased with the overall performance of the home teams.
“This particular team of students [from Shippensburg] distinguished themselves both with their creative ideas and with how thoroughly they addressed the client deliverables,” Kendrick said. “[All] students gained the ability to work on real world business problems through this case competition.”
The teams were given a week to develop their presentations and had 10 minutes to pitch their ideas to the panel of judges. Afterwards, the judges were able to ask questions and offer feedback. The top three teams presented a second time and were able to incorporate the judges’ suggestions.
“I knew the people [on my team] from classes, but getting to know them better under pressure in a non-classroom environment was interesting,” senior Lauryn Capers, whose team won second place, said. “It was nerve-wracking at first, but knowing [the judges] actually enjoyed what we were doing was really cool.”
Through the competition, students were able to practice teamwork and work on their public speaking skills.
“It’s very important for developing the skill-set that people need [in a career],” freshman Noah Pressler said. “You’ll need it for interviews and it develops character.”
Although many students were nervous about presenting in front of the judges — all of whom were marketing professionals — they noted that the judges made them feel at ease.
“[The judges] were really welcoming and friendly, and it made us more comfortable,” Slippery Rock senior April Sorce said. “It was more like we were having a conversation as we were presenting.”
Students also interacted with guest speakers, including Hopkins alumni Taylor Schulte and David Carasiti, who work for Under Armour and IMRE, respectively.
Additional guest speakers included Tilea Coleman, Under Armour’s director of corporate communications, Hayes Roth, Landor’s chief marketing officer and Jay Sethi, senior brand manager of CoverGirl cosmetics at Procter & Gamble. Swett also spoke about his experiences starting MindSumo.
“We actually [brought] people who are successful in the real world, and [we can] try to emulate them,” Nick Cerrone, vice president of finance for the AMA, said. “It gives a lot of people insight into what people are doing today in the industry.”
The conference was the first major regional event for the Hopkins AMA chapter, which was founded in 2008.
Cornelia Coté, AMA’s vice president of internal operations, said that the chapter was inspired to plan this event after attending the national AMA conference in New Orleans last spring and learning about what sort of events other collegiate chapters organized.
“We thought we have the resources, we have the speakers, we have the Baltimore community, so we decided to do it,” Coté said.
In addition to the 40 students who competed in the case competition, several AMA members from both Hopkins and other universities attended just to observe, network and support the group.
“We just have a great [AMA] community in Maryland,” Kayla Santos, vice president of events for the University of Maryland at College Park’s AMA chapter, said. “Continuing the relationships between AMA chapters is really important and I’m glad to see that there’s multiple chapters represented here.”
Liz Bagdorf, the AMA’s vice president of programming, said that she received positive feedback from the organization’s representatives from visiting schools.
“Several chapters said that they want to put on a similar regional conference at their own schools based on what we did,” Bagdorf said.
In addition to planning another regional conference next year, the AMA hopes to put on more marketing-centric events for students interested in the field.
“Marketing is important in any aspect of life because in any profession you go into, you’re going to have to market yourself if not a product that you’ve created,” AMA president James Fanto said.