Silver City, NM – Marketing students at Western New Mexico University are not waiting to receive their degrees to begin advertising their newfound expertise in Silver City.
Marketing professor Dr. Steve Walker and his students are paving the way for the newly introduced marketing degree program by partnering with several organizations in the community as promotions teams.
A year ago, Walker introduced his students to group initiative opportunities by developing business models for Corre Caminos, a public transportation company in Grant County; and BikeWorks, a non-profit community bicycle workshop. This spring, his students are partnering with BikeWorks for its annual Pedalista! event and with the WNMU Outdoor Program.
“One of the greatest criticisms I’ve heard from employers,” Walker said, “is that we, in education, put out students who can pass tests or quote material, but not apply it. With this program, the students are actually doing the work they’ll need later.”
Walker came to WNMU one year ago to develop the first Marketing major degree here in the last 20 years. This coming fall, that goal will be accomplished, along with a revamped minor program.
“Working with BikeWorks has been great,” said Kale Gahn, a Business Management major and marketing minor. “It isn’t just a school project. I have real experience I can take wherever I go.”
Gahn even said the experience has made her consider pursuing non-profit marketing as a career.
“It’s really win-win-win,” Walker said of his classes’ participation in the community. “It helps the school, helps the students and helps the community.”
Students promoting BikeWorks’ annual Pedalista! event have spent this semester designing promotional materials, recruiting sponsors, donors and volunteers, and boosting the non-profit’s presence on social media.
“The marketing stuff is something [BikeWorks Director] Dave and I aren’t very good at and don’t really enjoy,” Josh Stretch said after a planning session with the team. “So it’s great to have that time to do other things here. They have a lot of energy, enthusiasm and they’re free.”
Back on campus, Kathy Whiteman, Outdoor Program Director, has received help from her own group of marketing students.
The Outdoor Program promotes environmental literacy through outdoor activities like rock climbing, scuba diving and mountain biking. Through the program, equipment such as bikes, kayaks and backpacks can also be rented for student and community use.
The challenge for the two-year old program is not many people knowing about it.
“Their help has really been invaluable to me,” Whiteman said, “because they are students themselves, so they obviously know what appeals to them.”
Marketing students have focused on several fronts promoting the program, expanding its presence on social media, planning an exhibition of the program’s rental center on campus, and designing a new logo.
The logo design falls perfectly in line with something Walker had planned from the beginning.
“The major I’ve developed is largely cross-disciplinary,” Walker explained. “Marketing is perfect for bringing in several other majors, like art for graphic design.”
The plan is for the marketing major to take 10 classes, or 30 credits, but Walker hopes some students will earn some of those credits in a different area of study to form a stronger major.
“Really,” he said, “You can just create your own marketing degree.”
Registration for the new marketing major is open. Pedalista! will be held at Gough Park from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 26.