There’s nothing like walking back into a classroom after you’ve been out in the working world for a while.
Surrounded by the boundless energy, talent and potential of thousands of young students, I’m always reminded that learning isn’t just about earning a degree — it’s about the relationships and experiences that transcend textbooks.
That’s why I was so excited to play a small part in the 2013 AT&T Campus Challenge, a program that blends marketing theory with practical, hands-on application. Throughout the program, students face a range of business challenges — from brand research and strategy to promotion and recruiting – all wrapped inside a marketing course. By semester’s end, they present final campaigns that address real-world objectives. This Spring AT&T’s Government Education Client Group, led by Vice President Christopher Roy, hosted a competition among students from the following schools: University of Arizona, University of Texas Arlington, California State University Northridge, Kansas State University, Missouri State University, and Colorado Mesa University.
At AT&T, we recognize that industry-education collaborations like those in the Campus Challenge may play a role in bridging the skills gap.
I attended the class kick-off at UT-Arlington in late February. Initially, I expected to sit through a typical marketing lecture; instead, I witnessed a level of student-generated creativity and critical analysis that was both impressive and humbling. The first thing that came to mind? These kids could make great AT&T executives one day!
After all, the future of our nation’s economic health depends on the caliber of its workforce. At AT&T, we recognize that industry-education collaborations like those in the Campus Challenge may play a role in bridging the skills gap. We collaborated with a firm called EdVenture Partners to help bridge our commercial universe with the academic universe. EdVenture Partners has worked with a long list of companies, governments, and trade associations, to communicate and utilize tech-savvy, creative university students and top educators in solving real world challenges.
Of course, it’s not just the students who benefit from this unique program. By tapping the energy and enthusiasm of young minds, we’re able to connect with a hard-to-reach demographic on an ongoing basis. We can attain deeper insight into the behaviors, beliefs and aspirations of our next-generation leaders. In short, we can remain relevant and receptive to great ideas.
The Campus Challenge is unique in that rather than students just taking multiple-choice tests, they collaborate in teams, working with faculty and corporate mentors to develop, test and validate a tailored marketing objective. Success isn’t just determined by a letter grade, but by how well the students’ end product or campaign satisfies the client’s need.
Just as today’s youth cannot afford to study in a vacuum, corporations cannot evolve without listening to their key audiences. Spanning campuses across the nation, this program allows AT&T to engage and learn from our future employees and customers in a truly meaningful way. Hats off to the Government Education Client Group for their creative approach and congratulations to Missouri State University as the winner of the 2013 AT&T Campus Challenge! Their unique blend of social responsibility and pure product marketing was insightful, creative, and effective. All of us at AT&T wish these students continued success in their future endeavors.
This post originally appeared on the AT&T Consumer Blog.