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Katz Family Gift fuels growth of the FLC Student Marketing Agency

Katz Family Gift fuels growth of the FLC Student Marketing Agency

This year, five local businesses benefited from free marketing services through the program, which provides students and recent FLC grads with paid hands-on learning

DURANGO, Colo.— For Wraygen Shouldis (Business Administration, '24), working as a junior marketing consultant for Pine Needle Mountaineering gave her the hands-on experience she needed to land a new marketing gig. 

"I got tangible assets for my portfolio. It's so cool to learn about this in class and then see it in practice in real life. Applying what I learned to actual business scenarios was incredibly valuable,” said Shouldis, one of five participants in this year’s FLC Student Marketing Agency. Students and recent grads from FLC’s Kats School of Business discuss their projects during a working meeting ahead of the final presentations.

Housed within the Center for Innovation at FLC’s Katz School of Business, the agency allows student teams, guided by faculty and professional mentors, to provide professional marketing services to local businesses and organizations while earning competitive pay. This year, five local companies, including Pine Needle, J.Bo's Pizza and Rib Company, GeekPack, O-Bar-O Cabins, and Local First, benefited from the program. 

Steven Elias, Dean of the Katz School of Business, highlighted the significance of the program's funding and its impact.  

"In the past, we could only work with one business at a time. This time, we worked with five businesses. It's always been donor-funded, but now we can just do the work without worrying. We've been able to further our connection to the community significantly,” said Elias. "The marketing agency is explicitly written into the gift from Marc and Jane Katz. They saw our work in December 2022, and their transformational gift of $10.4 million for the School of Business has been a game-changer. Specifically, $1.5 million is endowed just for the student marketing agency." 

The funding covers student salaries, faculty support, and essential marketing research activities, ensuring local businesses receive top-notch marketing assistance without financial burden. 

To participate, organizations must be based in the Durango area and can be non-profit or for-profit entities. Each project team comprises three or four full-time student consultants, with marketing faculty and professional mentors overseeing their efforts.  

The collaborative environment fosters close interactions between the student teams and the businesses they serve, enhancing the overall impact and learning experience. Steve Elias, Dean of the Kats School of Business at Fort Lewis College talks to attendees during the FLC Student Marketing Agency 2024 event.

The program was led by Tomasz Miaskiewicz, associate professor of Marketing, and Heath Anderson, a visitor instructor of Marketing.  

Miaskiewicz said to participate, students apply just like any job, submitting a resume and cover letter.  

“Once hired, each student consultant manages their project. During the week, students are checking in with professors. But the students are driving the decisions, contacting clients,” he said. “We've run it in the past, for two summers before. It's nice to have a consistent funding source; it allows us to expand our scope of work.” 

For students, the program provided competitive pay and an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a professional setting. Open to students from all majors, the program required a significant time commitment of 40 hours per week, with a blend of in-person and remote work. Students worked closely with local business leaders and their marketing professors, gaining practical skills and insights. 

Shouldis said one of her professors mentioned the program while taking a social media marketing class this spring. 

“It sounded like a good opportunity and a good-paying position. Working with Pine Needle was interesting. We met the clients, figured out our scopes of work, and divided the tasks based on Students and recent grads from FLC’s Kats School of Business discuss their projects during a working meeting ahead of the final presentations.what we felt most comfortable with,” she said. 

"One of the highlights was building a custom GPT model for Pine Needle Dry Goods to enhance their marketing efforts, including managing their social media accounts and developing targeted campaigns. We even used the model to help them with their Father's Day campaign and trained their staff to use the social media strategies and content it developed." 

Other program participants included Chloe Hammond and AJ Espindola, majoring in Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Martine Tsosie, who graduated with a Business Administration and Marketing degree this spring. 

Each student consultant managed their projects, applying their classroom knowledge to real-world marketing challenges. 

Last week, junior consultants showcased their work during an event at the Center for Innovation. They highlighted their achievements and the impact of their projects, followed by a networking event. Attendees included the agency’s clients and business community members from the Durango area.  
“We invite key people from the college and the community for the final presentation,” Miaskiewicz said. “We want to get them in front of opportunities." 

Elias said the program provides mutual benefits to both students and the local business community. 

"The program is consistent with the Katz gift, helping local businesses," Elias added. "It's written in the gift itself, furthering our connection to the community." 


For more information about this program, visit its website

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