Going back to graduate school and getting my MBA has been a goal of mine for many years. I knew the Wisconsin MBA program and the Center for Brand and Product Management would be an important jumping off point for the next stage in my career. Through the program I would gain critical new skills and make connections with people who would have an impact on me throughout my career.
But getting my MBA was an expensive investment in my career development and getting my MBA without going in debt was important to me.
Therefore, when I found I could apply for teaching and project assistantships that would both cover my tuition and provide a monthly stipend (and benefits!), I jumped at the opportunity. I was lucky to secure two assistantships during the course of my MBA studies. Both provided me with a chance to gain valuable skills and make meaningful connections.
My first year of the program I was a project assistant for the Wisconsin Historical Society. I reported directly to the Director of Marketing and Development to develop a strong internal brand presence and physical branding at headquarters and 12 historic sites around state. WHS had recently moved all marketing efforts to their corporate headquarters and needed to find a strategy to link the sites through branding and find new ways to cross promote different experiences to guests at each location. The project included a great deal of research into similar organizations, tourist attractions, and even retail stores across the US to determine the best way to carry the brand through different sites.
As the semester progressed, I began to tie in my coursework in marketing research and analytics to conduct market segmentation research and marketing asset utilization and optimization. WHS had recently secured a vintage 1969 Weinermobile and needed research done on how best to use the asset to raise awareness for their new Big History campaign and attract new audiences to their historic sites and museums. With the help of my fellow MBAs, I conducted primary research on how the public would perceive the asset and was able to develop recommendations on how to strategically place the Weinermobile at events around the state to engage audiences. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit that spring and our plans had to be put on hold. However, it will be exciting to see the results of my work in the year to come.
My second year in the MBA program, I became a teaching assistant which allowed me to gain direct teaching experience, mentor undergraduates in their future career choices and help prepare the next generation of marketing professionals for the real world of branding. While it was always fun to help the students understand the fundamental principles of marketing, my favorite part of being a TA was in my office hour discussions with students who wanted to talk about careers in marketing, nonprofits and athletics. It was great to hear their thoughts on where they’d like to explore and help make connections for them in the business world to further their understanding of the industry. I look forward to hearing where they secure their internships this summer and whether they find their passion in marketing in the same way I have.
I learned so much from my project and teaching assistantships and gained some great stories to share over beers at the terrace. Furthermore, the assistantships offered me a way to graduate with my MBA debt free, all while giving back to the university that has given me a home these past two years.