Students studying outside the library
Wofford College students learn to provide consulting experience

By Drew Brooks
Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Institute / Herald-Journal/Alex HicksPHOTO: Wofford College student, Kate Donzella, talks about programs as part of the group's presentations. Photo by Alex Hicks Jr./Herald-Journal

Wofford College students participating in The Institute had little to no consulting experience when their summers began.

This week, those same students found themselves facing officials from well-established organizations with the goal of telling them what they could do better.

The month-long program, held at Wofford's The Space in The Mungo Center during July, aimed to teach students professional skills to give them a leg up on their competition after graduation.

The 21 students, mostly upperclassmen, were split into groups and then paired with a local organization like the Boy Scouts of America Palmetto Council and globalbike and Milliken and Co. to solve a real-world problem.

The multifaceted program, which also includes classes on public speaking and personal finances, is an extension of consulting Wofford students at The Space do year-round.

One group – Katherine Donzella, Kaylea Bollinger, Hunter Bradshaw, Rufus Chambers and Conner Maloy – entered the summer having not taken a single marketing class, but on Wednesday, they presented a plan to help the Boy Scouts better market their council to increase membership and fundraising.

The students suggested a marketing strategy focusing on youth, especially in minority communities that are typically underserved by scouting. The marketing ideas included the use of wristbands instead of easily forgotten fliers and targeting parents at parent-teacher nights or PTA meetings.

Donzella told officials that the Boy Scouts should stress the organization's values and ethics to parents, because that's what studies show appeals to adults.

“We're going to show the value of scouting,” said Bradshaw.

The Palmetto Council, which covers six counties and 5,500 scouts, sent four officials to the presentation and peppered the students with questions about their strategies, which also included plans to help increase sales of popcorn during the scouts' annual fall fundraiser.

In the past, that fundraiser has suffered due to competition from other groups and a reputation of poor quality and high prices, the Wofford students said.

The students advocated working with scouts on their sales pitches and marketing the popcorn as more of a way to help scouting.

They also suggested forming a bond with buyers through Thank You notes and partnering with businesses like car dealerships who could buy in bulk and then give the product away.

Officials with the Palmetto Council said they were impressed with some of the ideas and expressed interest in working with Wofford students in the future to implement the three-phase plan developed for them.

Afterwards, the students said The Institute forced them out of their comfort zones, forcing them to be more creative.

“I like thinking outside the box, and marketing lets me do that,” Bradshaw said.

Scott Cochran, dean of The Space in The Mungo Center, previously said The Institute was a bridge between “Wofford and college to life after Wofford.”

On Wednesday, he said The Institute forced the students to learn as they worked.

“There's a lot of work that goes into this,” he said.

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