An Immersion Approach to Client-Sponsored Projects: Preparing Students with Soft Skills Required for Hiring - Face to Face & Virtual Methods

Kenneth Thompson, Richard Conde, Michael Gade, Tina Mims


As higher education is pressured to prove its students’ readiness to work, preparing marketing students to become successful professionals requires faculty to employ a myriad of approaches. Among these approaches that emerged over the past 30 years are client-sponsored projects (CSP) as a superior method to transferring practical experience compared to utilizing text-based case studies. However, according to recent surveys, industry remains unsatisfied with baccalaureate graduates’ readiness to work. Graduating student-preparedness surveys show employers claim an absence of key skills among baccalaureate graduates. To address the gap between current industry survey results, while drawing on CSP literature, this article introduces a semester-long CSP pedagogy where the classroom, face-to-face or virtual, becomes an immersion of a typical corporate team project culture thereby practicing the very skills industry report students lack. In the model presented, students serve as consultants by developing an executable marketing plan for implementation by a client company. The procedures presented yield an experience providing students with performance expectations, much like an individual working in a business environment. During the semester-long journey, students develop the key competencies to specifically address the highlighted skill gaps from surveys among hiring managers. Although most CSPs are tools to help students hone some abilities, most projects typically become nothing more than another teaching tactic. The distinctiveness of the immersion approach presented in this article expands the use of CSP with a rigorous corporate-like in-class experience for both face-to-face and fully online courses. This article describes procedures educators can use for developing a classroom experience integrating real-business world pressures, coaching, and accountability to better prepare graduating students for their careers and satisfy the skills business managers expect.

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Copyright (c) 2020 Tina C Mims

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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