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C of I students gain real-world marketing experience

January 19, 2016

This fall semester, College of Idaho students in Dr. Marilyn Melchiorre’s marketing and communication class collaborated with local businesses, the City of Caldwell and the C of I to create new marketing and communication strategies. 

The opportunity allowed students to take concepts and knowledge learned inside the classroom and apply them directly to real-world settings.

“One of the great benefits of this class is I tell them, ‘You were consultants this semester,’” Melchiorre said. “‘You have worked with all of these businesses and you can put that on your resume.’”

Working in different groups throughout the semester, each student had the chance to pair his or her creative skills with others in the classroom. The students worked on six projects, including designing a billboard for the City of Caldwell, doing a competitive analysis for the Caldwell Municipal Airport, and working with the C of I Alumni Relations office to come up with a theme for Homecoming 2016.

“The whole experience gave us really good insight into the business world and the various aspects that are encompassed within it,” C of I senior Wayne Sauramba said. “My favorite project was designing a billboard as it taught us about all the components of advertising as well as marketing that go into creating a medium such as a billboard.”

The students also worked on a social media development project with the city. Groups of students took 10 photos around Caldwell, including one business and one winery, and came up with hashtags for the photos. One group came up with the hashtag “#TheRealCaldwell.” Later in the semester, the students noticed people in the community using that hashtag in a Facebook post.

“The students far exceeded our expectations,” said Holly Cook, the communication and research specialist for the City of Caldwell. “It was great to use the students’ ideas to improve our city’s marketing strategies and to build a connection between the city and the students at C of I.”

Students also worked on a project to create designs and messaging strategies for Tony Stewart, owner of Stewart’s Bar and Grill near campus. The winning group came up with a custom, warm color scheme for the restaurant, along with social media ideas and ways to capture the attention of the C of I student market.

“I was impressed with how the presentations went,” Stewart said. “There was quite a bit of information given and I’m using bits and pieces [for my business].”

With a semester’s worth of real-life marketing projects under their belts, the students feel more prepared than ever to apply their professional skills in the business world after graduation.

“I learned a lot from this class,” Sauramba said. “But most important is that communication, teamwork and organization are key aspects required in order to succeed in any work environment.”

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit