Professor builds real-world marketing within classroom

For 15 years, marketing professor Dr. Hiram Barksdale has gone beyond the walls of his classroom to provide a project for his students that will allow them to gain real-life marketing experience.

Barksdale has collaborated with Georgia State alumni Dana Pate and Melissa White of Matrix Residential, property management division of Atlanta-based real estate investment group Pollack Shores, for a third time, to transform his Marketing Solutions class into a real-world marketing firm.

 Pate, a Georgia State graduate and Marketing Director of Matrix Residential participated in this same project six years ago in Barksdale’s class.

 “I had a great experience with it,” Pate said. “It was one of the first classes that got me involved with marketing in the real world.”

 Barksdale established this project out of frustration with the way marketing courses are traditionally taught.

“I thought that there could be a lot more that could be done and that we could do better job preparing the students with a career in marketing,” Barksdale said. “I started trying to figure out ways to do that.”

The class is divided into departments, such as research, advertising and public relation that allow the students to work together to complete mid-term and final goals, tasks and assignments for Pollack Shores.

 “We gave the class specific objectives to fulfill through the year,” Pate said. “Our goal is to make sure the students are exposed to real life problems every day. Anything they suggest, we try to really take what they are proposing.”

 Barksdale not only chose to work with Pollack Shores because of his former student Pate, but to show students the different opportunities of marketing.

 “One of the things that I think is really interesting is students tend to have blinders on and think about job opportunities in terms of Fortune 500 and mainstream, consumer- packaged goods companies because that’s the way that they have been taught,” Barksdale said.

He says students are normally informed in their marketing classes of Fortune 500 companies, which constrains their opportunities.

“There are only 15 or 16 of the Fortune 500 headquartered in Atlanta,” Barksdale said. “If you want to stay in Atlanta, that means there aren’t a lot of great opportunities to go into marketing per se.”

Ultimately, this discourages students and forces them to pursue the larger marketing opportunities in cities, such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Barksdale’s project alerts students of the different marketing opportunities in other areas, such as real estate management.

 For senior marketing major Taylor Melton, Barksdale’s project allowed her to work in a different area than her major, which broadened her marketing skills.

Melton works in the Public Relations department, an area that was new to her.

“I have learned a lot about Public Relations and it has helped me grow my portfolio and as a person,” Melton said. “I now can talk about working in Public Relations and apply the new skills I learned to my future career.”

The project allows students like marketing major Michelle Cloninger who have busy schedules that limit their time and opportunity to have internships to still acquire valuable experience.

“This is something I am able to put on my résumé,” Cloninger said. “Being a college student and working part time doesn’t leave much time for internships.”

Networking with Pollack Shores allows students to talk about the project’s tasks as they would an internship and builds professional relationships with Pate and White, who can provide references, much like an employer at an internship would.

The incorporation of real-world marketing companies in a class project is a true win-win situation for Pollack Shores and Barksdale as a professor, according to Barksdale.

“I think there’s a lot of positive things that come out of it and very few real—I’m not aware of any negatives,” Barksdale said.

Pate and White receive fresh ideas from students that they can incorporate in their company.

“The class if beneficial because our demo is constantly changing,” White said.

White, who graduated from Georgia State in 2006, says the project allows them to give back to their Alma Mater and furthermore, brings them insight and helps to “better plan ourselves as a company.”

Pate and White enjoy the class’s energy and have been impressed with their ability to multi-task.

Cloninger said she was first confused when Barksdale explained the project to the class because she did not understand why a company would want students helping them. But working more with Pollack Shores cleared her confusion.

“I soon realized that they weren’t asking for the help of a bunch of student,” Cloninger said. “[It] really they were getting the help from the people who are going to be the future.”

Barksdale, who has been teaching at Georgia State for 31 years, says the project keeps him engaged and makes him different than other courses.

“It pays real benefits to the College of Business and to the University too,” Barksdale said. “It raises our profile in the business community.

Barksdale’s other marketing classes are working to complete real-world tasks as well. While this class works with Pollack Shores in real estate management, another class in working with Honda in the introduction of the 2013 four-door Civic. Another class has been working with the Ray Anderson Foundation and helped with the Ray Day event at the Rialto Center for the Arts.

“We did different things, depending on the opportunities that present themselves,” Barksdale said.

Barksdale is currently working with two small businesses to have a project ready for students in the fall.