Blackhawk Technical College marketing students gain real world experience

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Nick Crow
Thursday, May 8, 2014

JANESVILLE —Cindy Leverenz's integrated marketing communications class at Blackhawk Technical College benefits from real-world experience, she said.

That is why she collaborated with The Literacy Connection in Janesville to have her students form a marketing campaign for the non-profit.

"This is the hands-on piece that BTC is known for," Leverenz said.

The project was a win-win, she said, providing The Literacy Connection with free marketing services and the students with experience outside of the classroom.

"It changes the feel of everything to have an actual project," student Kadi Kleinschmidt said. "I think this helps you get prepared for after school."

The students presented their ideas Wednesday for The Literacy Connection and ways it can improve in areas such as volunteer engagement, rebranding, social media, event planning, public relations and advertising.

"We have three part-time positions and combined staff hours of around 52," said Pamela Thomas, executive director of The Literacy Connection. "We do the best we can but have no dedicated person with a marketing strategy. This is the demographic we want to start reaching. It was great to have the opportunity to meet with the class."

The Literacy Connection is a free service for people interested in tutoring and education in reading, writing, speaking and understanding the English language, Thomas said. The organization provides one-on-one tutoring for adults as well as GED prep in both English and Spanish.

"This (organization) is a great opportunity," Leverenz said. "They are looking to start fresh with new ideas that interest volunteers. This was a great collaboration."

Student Shane Hall said the most difficult part of the project for him was finding ways to target a younger demographic.

"I don't think the younger generation has as much understanding that through volunteering they can gain the experience they need," Hall said.

Students prepared for the presentation for two months.

"They were so attentive," Thomas said. "They worked hard and were in constant contact with us. They did this job very well."

Leverenz hopes the marketing program at Blackhawk will grow because of a need for professionals in the field, she said. 

"This was a lot different than anything we've done before," Hall said. "This is the first time BTC has done this with marketing. Getting real world experience let's us know what it will be like."

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