Ann Springer of the Faculty of Business & Government said she worked for several years to bring a marketing agency class to BYU–Hawaii where students gain real world experience, and she is thrilled to see it start.
In the class, called “b digital,” students apply what they learn in other core marketing classes to real world experiences, she shared.
“They know how to run a campaign. They know how to develop social media presence. They know the theories and the vocabulary. They just need a place to fly the plane.” That place to fly, Springer said, is the b-digital class
Springer said students in the class divide and conquer the work, collaborating in teams to perform tasks for their clients. Each team has a student leader, so as students work their way through the marketing agency from semester to semester, they gain valuable leadership experience. Springer said, “This [class] is intended to be student led.”
Sydney Sears, a junior from China studying business management-marketing, said the class is “basically functioning like a real digital marketing agency.”
During her second semester taking the class, she was given more leadership roles, she said. This helped her “be more involved with … deliverables and clients,” Sears said. “I wish this class was offered years ago because I would have loved to take it for three or more semesters.”
Sophie Richmond, a BYUH alumna from San Diego who is Springer’s intern, said as part of b digital, students do branding and re-branding, promotions, sales, social media, Instagram monetizing, advertising and create web content.
Jason Yamamoto, a senior from Hawaii studying marketing, said at the beginning of the semester, students could choose which of the four teams they wanted to be a part of. The teams were “social media management, sales and promotion, branding and web development.”
He said the teams “are all intertwined” and work together to “make a masterpiece.”He said the class will help marketing majors and minors hone their skills and take them “10 steps ahead of [their] competition.”
The class has benefited him, Yamamoto shared, because he has been able to “shift from being a college student to being a marketer.”
Springer said the work students do in the class varies by semester because they are all working to keep the class current.
Clients request certain marketing skills, Springer said, and students work together to fulfill the request. Doing so helps students become proficient in current market demands.
She said the class is important because it allows students to complete real projects, which offers them a new perspective as they overcome inevitable complications then work together as a team to create a cohesive plan. Springer said the projects allow students to “see the success … in real time.”
In addition, she said, the class helps build student’s portfolios and resumes because telling a potential employer they can do something doesn’t matter. What matters, she explained, is being able to show employers what they have done.
Springer said the students who took the class during its first semester developed the name together. The name they chose, b digital, was inspired by President Gordon B. Hinckley’s “be’s”: be grateful, be smart, be clean, be true, be humble and be prayerful.
In addition, she said, the name represents how a lot of companies “need to take the digitization step” and “take advantage of Generation Z and their creative power.”
She said students who took the class in its first semester also worked together to develop the branding of the class and pitched it to companies to develop a pool of clients.
This was valuable because it showed the students “how much work goes into launching a new brand,” said Springer.
Sears, who took the class during that time, said, “Building b digital from the ground up has taught me the inner workings of a digital marketing agency and how much work is necessary to really succeed.”
Moving forward, Springer said, students will have a say in everything, including clients, services and company growth. Sears encouraged students to take advantage of the class.
“If this opportunity is available, take it. [Students] can take a bunch of marketing classes, but there’s no better experience than actual hands-on experience.”
While she was envisioning the b digital class, Springer said, she was impressed with the digital marketing agency classes at both BYU–Idaho and BYU in Provo because they work with real clients, have budgets of thousands of dollars and create impressive resumes for the students involved.
She spoke of one student in the BYU in Provo class that started a $10,000 account for a client and turned it into $100,000 in revenue.
“She put that on her LinkedIn,” Springer said, “and had multiple job offers coming out of the pandemic before she graduated.”
Springer said students with that kind of experience are more likely to be hired for a management position. “A student with leadership experience on top of that level of return on investment is super powerful in the workplace. … For the rest of their career, they’re going to make more money.”
Digital marketing is an easy field for students to get into and start themselves, Springer said. “Anybody with a laptop or a cell phone and great internet can make a lot of money.”
She said this is a great opportunity, especially for female students who want to continue in the workforce and make money without working a full-time job.
Springer said BYUH’s new professor, Tserennyam Sukhbaatar of the Faculty of Business & Government, alternates with her to teach the class.
Sukhbaatar said he plans to share his global connections and experience while teaching. “I’m taking some notes on how to deliver the best outcome for the students,” he said. “I would like to share lots of really practical experiences and knowledge with the students.”