It’s not your typical curriculum, or classroom.

New York City was a classroom for marketing students this summer.

New York City was a classroom for marketing students this summer.

Marketing 4950-Gateway to World Markets, now in its 11th year, convenes during the first mini-mester of the summer and provides an experiential learning opportunity unlike what’s taught inside Sirrine Hall’s red-brick walls.

New York City serves as host to Clemson University marketing students enrolled in the three-credit College of Business course. And their classrooms during the six-day trip are a mix of the city’s concrete canyons, boardrooms, receptions and networking venues.

“Like marketing itself, this trip involves learning about all the different facets, like branding, sponsorships, promotion, pricing and building relationships,” said Mary Anne Raymond, faculty member and director of college corporate relations. A co-founder of the Marketing 4950 experience, she is joined by senior lecturer James Gaubert in leading the marketing pilgrimage to the Big Apple each year. “This trip gives high visibility and brand awareness to Clemson and its marketing program and has become a pipeline for job opportunities at global companies,” Raymond added.

In order to qualify for the class and trip, students majoring in marketing must be in solid academic standing within the program. Though course tuition covers most expenses, students must pay their airfare and personal expenses separately.

A highlight of the journey are visits to 12 global companies over four days, many of which employ Clemson graduates. Among them are industry leaders such as Oglivy & Mather, Michael Kors, JetBlue, ESPN, UBS Financial Services, Young and Rubicam, Cisco and American Express.

The interactive meetings with company leaders and exposure to the city itself opened students’ eyes to a metropolitan work environment, revealed the breadth of the Clemson brand and illustrated the variety of marketing opportunities that exist at those multi-billion dollar companies.

Raymond and Gaubert estimate nearly 50 Clemson marketing graduates have either secured full-time positions or internships as a result of the annual trip. One of those former students is Brandon Speweik, who leads Business Development at Blue Soho.

“The marketing class and trip to New York provided great perspective on how things we learn in class are applied in a real-world environment. It was this perspective that convinced me to pursue marketing as a profession through an internship I received with one of the companies we visited. The internship led to a full-time position and career that I’ve pursued passionately ever since. Had it not been for the New York trip, there is no telling where I would be today.”

This year’s group of 23 students networked with alumni of the class — either at their job locations or during receptions.

“The connections on this trip were amazing. Every alum I met was eager to hear of my aspirations and offer advice and encouragement,” said marketing major Jennifer Borfitz of Norwich, N.Y. “Beyond the marketing knowledge I gained, it made me realize the immensity of Clemson’s alumni network. No matter where I end up, my ties to the university will forever be strong. I left New York feeling motivated and inspired.”

Expectations of students well exceed that of a traditional class field trip, as pre- and post-event tasks are required. Students spend a week, or more, researching each company they visit and making a presentation to the class. Questions must be prepared for all those firms, as well as a resume, which is left behind at each company. Upon returning, students are required to complete an exam and debrief, and chronicle their experiences through written assignments.

The upper-level marketing class is also a lesson on how to dress for business, dining etiquette and a primer on navigating one of the world’s most dynamic nerve centers of business. But most students said the trip’s myriad of venues were invaluable in preparing them for their careers.

“Whether networking with an alum, visiting the companies, learning proper etiquette or just navigating the big city, I was constantly learning. Every experience left me feeling confident and ready for the real world,” said Jeremy Burtt, marketing major from Saline, Mich. “It was an exciting and insightful week that will go down as one of my most memorable Clemson experiences.”

Raymond and Gaubert said Gateway to World Markets is designed to put students in a good position for life after Clemson.

“The trip’s networking experiences, exposure to industry insights and trends and the ability to present themselves as knowledgeable professionals, all helped students realize the importance and power of the Clemson brand beyond the classroom,” Gaubert said. “This stands out as one of the Department of Marketing’s most valued experiential learning opportunities. It exposes students to the vibrancy and diversity of career opportunities as told by alums who not long ago were in these students’ shoes.”

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