Paper or Plan? Learning How to Market Yourself

Published on February 27, 2014 by arothstein

(MERIDIAN) Which would you rather do: write a 1,000-page research paper or create a marketing plan? Some students taking business courses at Broadview University have been challenged to think outside of the box. As part of an applied learning project for their marketing class, they have been tasked with creating a marketing plan. While it is not unusual for business students to learn this skill, this project has a twist. Their assignment is to create the plan for themselves. While it may sound like a relatively simple project, let’s just say that research paper is looking pretty good right about now.

“I swear this is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do,” Erica Huls, a student in the health care management program, said. “I have no clue how to promote myself.”

Jon Taylor, the career services director at Broadview University-Boise, says one of the biggest complaints he hears from students and graduates is that they are not comfortable talking about themselves.

The idea for this project came from their instructor Debra Schmidt, the business program chair at the Boise campus.

“The ability to sell yourself to a prospective employer is one of the ultimate keys to success,” Schmidt said. “You may have all of the skills and talents necessary for stellar job performance, but if you don’t know how to sell yourself, you can lose out on landing a great job.”

The students started this process by taking a look at their personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In the business world, this is called a SWOT analysis. Perhaps the toughest part of this challenge is for the students to look deep within themselves.

“I am definitely having a hard time identifying my strengths,” Julie Reed, a business program student, said. “I didn’t receive much positive reinforcement growing up, so it is tough for me to see what I do well.”

To help with the process, the students are also being encouraged to interview three people closest to them and ask what it is they do well. The idea is that learning how they are perceived by an outsider may help give them a different perspective of themselves. In turn, that feedback will help them build confidence and identify sellable skills.

“I went into this thinking it would be a relatively smooth, valuable project,” Schmidt said. “Now, I am beginning to realize how difficult this is. It is really tough for them to be introspective, but I am confident this experience will tremendously help them as they move forward in their careers.”

The project is getting rave reviews from Jon Taylor, the campus’s career services director.

“In such a competitive job market, it is increasingly important to make a strong first impression in any interview,” Taylor said. “One of the biggest complaints I hear from students and graduates is that they are not comfortable talking about themselves. However, student and graduates with a clear understanding of how best to communicate and demonstrate their talents and abilities will find themselves in a favorable position in any interview.”

“I already know this project will be the toughest thing I have to do in school,” Huls says, “but I also know it will be the most beneficial thing I will learn.”

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