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Success Starts Here: Getting involved

| Gretchen Hutterli

"Success Starts Here" is a series of seven articles that introduce new students to the UW-Eau Claire College of Business. A new article will be posted each week until the fall academic term begins.

Getting involved

“When you get to your graduation (and you will), no interviewer wants to talk about your classes,” according to Dr. Scott Swanson, professor of marketing. “You need a story to tell about the difference you made and experiences you have had that make you special. That is where HIPs are invaluable.”

HIPS — high impact practices — are intensive learning experiences that go beyond the classroom. They include activities like collaborative research, academic competitions, study abroad programs, internships, service-learning, and student organizations. But there is more to HIPs than just landing a job. Students who participate in enrichment opportunities feel more connected to the university, their academic programs, and the faculty and other students.

Assistant Dean Gretchen Hutterli interviewed Swanson to learn more about two popular HIPs — student organizations and collaborative research.

Congratulations to the UW-Eau Claire American Marketing Association on being named the 2016 AMA International Chapter of the Year. As the faculty advisor for this group, you are very familiar with student organizations. Why should students join one? What do they get out of the experience?

SS: That’s easy — learning opportunities, networking, building lifelong friendships, fun!

Many student organizations can provide you with a wide range of high impact practices experiences. In AMA, for example, students are involved in dozens of competitions each year. We also work in the community doing a wide range of activities...things as simple as community clean-ups to conducting marketing research to doing creative integrative marketing communications plans for local and regional companies.

UW-Eau Claire supports over 250 student organizations. The College of Business alone sponsors 15 different student organizations. How do students decide which organization to join?

SS: For almost any group you were a part of in high school there will be similar organizations available to you on campus. So an easy starting point is to look at areas of familiarity. Similarly, there will be groups associated with your major. These organizations are important to consider as they will strengthen your knowledge and skills in your chosen field; help you connect with other students with similar interests, help you make connections with the companies that can provide you with internships and job opportunities, allow you to know your faculty on a more personal basis.

When is the best time to join a student organization? 

SS: The best time is now! Freshman should try out different groups and see where they feel most comfortable-but get involved.

Let’s talk about another HIP, Scott.  In addition to being an outstanding student organization adviser, you are also known within the college for your collaborative research. Last year, for example, you collaborated with students on seven research projects, which is pretty amazing.

SS: I enjoy doing research so I am always looking for students who want to know more about the research process. Many of the students I work with are AMA members or come from my marketing classes. AMA members are especially interested in collaborative research as they can earn the AMA Collegiate Marketing Research Certificate, a national certificate designed to get students interested in the research process.  

Let’s say I want to work with you on a collaborative research project. How do I get started?

SS: First, find a faculty member to work with. You will have to obtain the Institution Review Board (IRB) certification from the university. The purpose of the IRB is to assure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of anyone participating as subjects in your research study.

Then the process follows a similar format. We will work together to establish a research objective, review past literature, determine how data will be collected, establish sample size and design, analyze data, and prepare a final report or presentation that includes recommendations. Last year, some of my student teams presented their projects at CERCA, the university’s weeklong research celebration. Others presented their research at the AMA International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans.

Do any research projects stand out?

SS: One project people might find interesting is the one my students did for the Philadelphia Eagles. Students identified sportscape factors, such as the design of the stadium, signage, and seating, that influenced the satisfaction of spectators who attended a professional football game. In addition, students looked for significant differences across various spectator segments, for example, did women have preferences that differed from men. Based on the analyses, our collaborative research team made recommendations which were presented to the Eagles marketing staff.

What a great project! 

SS: This was a great learning experience that had the added bonus of allowing students to work for an actual company. In addition to being able to apply the marketing knowledge they learned in class, students learned advanced statistical techniques, improved their presentation skills, and obtained a certification, all of which improved their marketability on the job market.

This project is another great example of how the College of Business prepares students for success. These projects just don’t happen but they involve many hours of work on your part, Scott. Thank you for your commitment to our students.

Meet Dr. Scott Swanson
Scott Swanson

Dr. Scott Swanson is one of the shining stars in the marketing program. An excellent classroom instructor and researcher, Swanson always has time for students. For him, it really is all about seeing students succeed.

“I really gain a lot of personal satisfaction from being able to work with students outside the classroom, helping them gain confidence in their abilities, and watching them achieve things that often they did not think was possible at the start of the journey,“  he said. “Then of course, I get to brag about what wonderful and driven students we have at UW-Eau Claire,” he added with a smile.

Swanson understands the value of getting involved because he was active in several groups when he was in college. He was a member of the American Marketing Association, the very organization he now serves as faculty advisor. Swanson sang in the concert choir for four years and was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the national honor society for students at AACSB accredited business schools.

When he isn’t working, Swanson is busy with family and friends.

“I have been married to my wife Jill for 30 years — that takes work!”, he joked. The Swanson family also includes four children and eight grandchildren.

Swanson’s hobbies include gardening, photography, snow skiing, fishing, hiking, golfing, and traveling.

His advice to new freshmen is, in his words, “Nothing shocking.”

“GO TO CLASS, do the readings and keep up with the work, use your campus resources and your professors if you need help,” said Swanson.

“Most professors really enjoy it when you come and visit us in our offices,” he added.

Plan to attend the COB Freshmen Meeting, Friday, September 2 from 11 am-12 pm in the Davies Center Ojibwe Ballroom. Watch your email for more details.