What Program Advisory Boards Can Do For You
By Jenna Christianson, Kirstyn Fesenmaier, Nicole Lence, and Samantha Rasmussen
Have you ever heard of Program Advisory Boards? Advisory Boards exist for most of the departments in the College of Business (Information Systems, Accounting and Finance, Management, and Marketing). The main purpose of the advisory boards are to evaluate the students’ curriculum at UW-Eau Claire, discuss what the trends are in the business world, and examine how students can bring forth their educational experiences into the workplace. These boards offer great experiences, resources, advice, possible internships and job possibilities through “reverse engineering” (what can be done to help the students succeed in the work world).
One of the boards, The Marketing Advisory Council (MAC), consists of about eleven professionals, with half of them being UWEC alumni. Company presidents and vice presidents, directors, managers, pharmaceutical representatives, and independent business people (e.g., realtors) make up the wide range of professionals on the MAC. Members have worked in their respective industries for at least five to seven years before serving on the MAC, and have gained enough experience to advise the college and professors.
Twice a year, advisory board members are given an assignment developed by university staff. Previous topics of these meetings related to social networking and the development of the marketing analytics program at UW-Eau Claire. The marketing faculty recently gave the MAC the following assignment to evaluate different academic practices, which will be discussed at their next meeting:
- What courses or experiences do our competitors offer that WOW you and believe we should consider offering? Also, which colleges/universities most impress you in terms of how they prepare their marketing majors?
- What are your recruiters’ impressions of our students?
Chuck Tomkovick, Professor of Marketing, says that this assignment will uncover “who is doing something different than we are, and how it is taught.” This assignment will give the MAC and UWEC marketing professors an inside look at how to improve UWEC’s marketing curriculum.
In the spring, the MAC also invites a panel of six to ten students to provide feedback regarding faculty performance and curriculum without university faculty present. These meetings are approximately one to two hours long, allowing the executives to ask well-thought-out questions in a fashion similar to a focus group. This allows for open conversation because of the absence of the faculty. Professors select students for the panel based on involvement on campus (e.g., president of an organization or sales competition competitors) and academic performance in the hope of receiving quality, constructive feedback. Because the interaction between the MAC and the panel of students, some of those students have made excellent contacts and have even been offered internships and full-time jobs.
MAC members also maintain a high level of interaction with students, and many conduct on-campus interviews. Dr. Joe Bonner, Associate Professor of Marketing, says “employers are our eyes and ears” and relay to the professors “how to make students better candidates [for the work world].”
From left to right: Jenna Christianson is a senior marketing major from Minneapolis, MN;
Kirstyn Fesenmaier is a senior marketing major from Minneapolis, MN;
Nicole Lence is a senior management/entrepreneurship major from St. Paul Park, MN;
and Samantha Rasmussen is a junior business administration major from Cable, WI. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.