College admissions absolutely love buzzwords. In the college search process, our brains become numb to words like “holistic” and “collaborative,” as we hear them on static repeat at every single school without fail. Through the college process, I, too, often tuned out these seemingly empty words. However, the idea of “hands-on experience,” a phrase used equally as often as its repeated counterparts, still managed to hold some weight in my mind. As a creative person, I wanted more out of the college classroom experience than simply memorized textbook pages and tired lectures. I wanted to get a feel for a real working environment, to see what it would be like to put my knowledge to practice. This semester, I finally got to experience the truth behind the seemingly meaningless words “hands-on experience” in the course Advertising and Integrated Marketing and Communications.

This course is part of the Center for Leadership Education, which houses 6 different academic programs including my minor, Marketing and Communications. In this course, taught by the amazing Professor Leslie Kendrick, we not only learn the intricacies of the advertising and integrated marketing fields, but we put this knowledge to use by acting as a full-service advertising agency with a $2500 budget. The class is divided into student-led departments ranging from Research to Campaign Strategy and Events, forming Hoptimize Advertising. This semester, we are working with the startup Jetpack. Jetpack is a delivery service app that hires students, called Jetpackers, to make deliveries of essential products like phone chargers and energy drinks right where you need them. We are so excited to be working closely with Jetpack to implement an integrated marketing campaign on our campus, with the goals of establishing brand awareness and generating downloads of the app.

This banner photo for our Facebook page was made by our Advertising team!

We have just begun our 3-week campaign period featuring exciting events like product giveaways, a field day, and social media raffles. These events and initiatives were strategically planned in response to feedback from our Research team, which detailed how to best engage our target audience.

Lunch with Jetpack event: download the app, get a slice of pizza!

Gaining real-life experience is more than just an exciting way to break up a day full of lectures; it’s also a resume-builder. PR and Social Media team member Robby Johnson actually used his experience in this course to get a job. “I applied to a job at a a cyber security firm that required technical experience in choosing a job candidate,” he says, “I was able to use leverage my experience working with the technology startup Jetpack in this class as a means of getting my foot in the door. I ended up getting the job, and I couldn’t have done it without this amazing experience!”

Personally, I was able to use my experience as Co-Manager of the PR and Social Media team to get an internship offer. The internship coordinators were so excited that I was performing many of the tasks that they perform in their day-to-day jobs in my class, and knew that I would be a great candidate to bring this experience to an internship.

This course truly gives “hands-on experience” a real meaning. Putting my knowledge to action has taught me skills that I could not gain in a traditional classroom, and for that I am grateful.

Our class wearing shirts designed by the advertising team. Some of us were dressed in onesies to bring attention to the brand!