For Kogod Professor Michael Clayton, it’s all about the student-teacher connection. “I’m interested in teaching and service,” he says. “I love using my experience to advise others, because that was critical to getting me to where I am today.”
While his passion for teaching motivated him to join Kogod’s faculty, the school’s commitment to education outside the classroom is what really hooked him. He believes Kogod’s focus on experiential learning is what ensures students’ success– and his success as a mentor.
“The school’s focus on real-world experience is crucial,” says Clayton, who directs the Master of Science in Marketing (MSMKTG) program. “It gives students the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, and gives me solid, practice-based teaching material.”
The MSMKTG program’s Applied Client Project epitomizes Kogod’s experiential learning philosophy. Students work with RedPeg Marketing, a DC-area events marketing firm, to lead a full-scale campaign, including research, strategic planning, creative implementation, and analysis of results.
"Working with an actual client while still in the program was incredibly valuable," Laura Lamperti, MSMKTG ‘16, says. "Now I can walk into any job interview and feel confident that I have real-world experience."
In the past, students have worked with companies such as Geico, Enterprise Car Share, and Russian Standard Vodka. The project culminates with a final campaign presentation to their client at RedPeg’s headquarters in Alexandria, VA. “We wanted to recreate an agency experience for students that emphasized a real client relationship,” he says. “We hope this will help them develop the professional skills they need for successful careers.”
Clayton especially values the elusive – and essential – skill of creative autonomy. He pushes students to proactively express their ideas throughout the client project. “If you want a successful career in marketing, you must have the knowledge and confidence to speak intelligently,” Clayton says. “I hope students’ experience with RedPeg will help them develop this professional self-assurance.”
Students also gain real-world experience through regular site visits to local companies. Clayton arranges visits at 8-10 firms yearly, giving students a taste for how different agencies operate and what career options are available. Past excursions have included trips to Marriott’s hotels and Volkswagen’s headquarters.
Clayton hopes to expand the marketing program in the future by adding a second client partner—preferably non-profit. “We have a lot of students interested in non-profit marketing, and this would give them the chance to choose a specific path,” he says. “It would also align with some of our faculty’s background and interests.”
Most of all, Clayton wants to provide students with a strong foundation for success. By challenging students to think strategically and creatively, he knows he can shape them into informed, ambitious professionals. “The Applied Client Project helps them think through a real-world lens,” Clayton says. “If I can give them the direction they need to launch or build their careers, I’ve done my job well.”
Interested in learning more or applying to the MSMKTING program? Visit our MS Marketing webpage for more information.