Program Creates Path from Class to Career

Through the Pathways for Marketing and Advertising Program, students work on a Healthy Choice case analysis for SapientNitro, an interactive marketing firm.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

After placing first in a case competition at SapientNitro’s New York City office on December 1, six Rider University students were offered six-month paid internships in the spring with the company, which specializes in interactive marketing, creative design and technology services.

As part of the case competition, organized by SapientNitro and Rider’s Pathways for Marketing and Advertising Program, five student teams from the College of Business Administration were asked to provide recommendations for how Healthy Choice, one of SapientNitro’s clients, could increase the number of times its target audience, women ages 25 to 44, uses the product.

“The Pathways program is designed to showcase some of our best students. The program also introduces these students to major corporations and helps them understand various career paths and opportunities available to them,” said Dr. Cynthia Newman, associate professor of Marketing and director of the Pathways program.

The opportunity to work with SapientNitro evolved from conversations with Alan Wexler ’85, MBA ’90, who is senior vice president and managing director of North America for SapientNitro and a member of the College of Business Administration’s Executive Advisory Council (EAC).

“We are very happy to participate in the Pathways program. It’s a win-win situation allowing SapientNitro to benefit from exposure to top talent in the University while providing students with an opportunity to learn from industry professionals,” Wexler said. “Personally, I benefited from an internship at Rider when I was a student. It was an amazing experience and I am glad to help students get the same opportunity.”

In October, six SapientNitro representatives came to the Lawrenceville campus to talk about the company and present the case challenge to the students. The teams were each assigned a mentor from the company and had six weeks to put together a 10 minute presentation and an executive summary of recommendations. During their trip to New York, the teams made their presentation to eight judges, including the Kathy Delaney, chief creative officer, and Donald Chesnut, the head of experience design. In addition to the presentations, the students also had a chance to take a tour of the Sapient Nitro’s New York office and ask company recruiters questions about portfolios, resumes and dress attire for interviews. Maureen Sheehy, recruiter from SapientNitro, organized the site visit.

The winning team included Antonio Aiello, a senior Marketing and Advertising dual major; Brianna Kuhl, a senior Marketing and International Business major; Mary O’Hara, a junior Advertising and Communication dual major; Zakary Pflieger, a junior Marketing major; Anna Tymczyszyn, a junior Advertising and Marketing dual major; and John Vassos, a junior Marketing major.

“When our group was announced as the winners, I think we were all really excited, but we were already extremely confident that we had especially innovative ideas,” Kuhl said. “From the beginning, we were all determined to do well. We just followed through until the end.”

In order to increase Healthy Choice’s target audience, the team proposed that SapientNitro use guerilla marketing, which relies on engaging and thought-provoking concepts in order to create a buzz about a product on a low budget. For example, the students recommended that the company “put Healthy Choice in people’s everyday lives” by incorporating large sculptures of vegetables and pasta throughout the city. They also suggested that the company create 3-D billboards with fog machines in order to show the “steam” coming off of the pictured Healthy Choice meal. Other ideas included offering phone applications, family-sized meals, breakfast, snacks, seasonal produce and Healthy Choice vending machines.

“From developing our executive summary, to meeting the final deadlines, the whole process from start to finish was an important project for us,” Aiello said. “Even while overcoming the fears and pressure was a growing process, and finally presenting to the judges panel and the boardroom full of employees was a great experience that cannot be necessarily taught in a college classroom.”

The other student participants included Kristin Collins, a junior Marketing major; Tara Dalrymple, a junior Marketing major; Catherine DeSantis, a senior Marketing and Finance dual major; Diana DiGioia, a junior Marketing major; Stephanie Gomez, a junior International Business and Marketing dual major; Rachel Guida, a sophomore Advertising and Marketing major; Bryan Griffith, a junior Marketing major; Rachael Matreale, a junior Marketing major; Karen Meilands, a junior Advertising major; Justin Mersinger, a senior Advertising and Marketing dual major; Alexa Molano, a junior Marketing major; Adam Sachs, a junior Advertising major; Megan Studwell, a senior Marketing and Advertising dual major; Jennifer Tomo, a senior Advertising and Marketing dual major; Briana Wallace, a junior Marketing and International Business major; and Thomas Wospil, a senior Marketing and Human Resource Management major.

Last year as part of the Pathways program, EAC members Larry Smith, vice president of Global Supply Chain and Paul Falkenstein ’89, vice president of Product Development, came to the Lawrenceville campus to speak to students about Becton, Dickinson and Company’s global marketing strategy.

“This year, I wanted to bridge the two worlds of marketing and advertising, and SapientNitro really bridges those worlds,” Newman said.

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SapientNitro representatives Kathy Delaney and Donald Chesnut with Rider University students.