Last week, students in the College of Business Administration had the opportunity to interact directly with more than twenty business professionals as part of the college’s Executive-Professor-For-A-Day program.
The program was designed to give students an insight into life as a professional by partnering current professionals with college faculty. The teams were tasked with developing joint lesson plans that allow the professionals to share their work with students.
Emily Brueseke, program manager of business administration and director of the executive mentor program, said that the program was conceptualized by Ali Malekzadeh, dean of business administration, last fall. This semester was the second time the college has hosted professionals for the program.
“From April 21 to 25, we had 24 different people (come) to speak to our classes,” Brueseke said. “We had a good mix of people speak to our business foundations class, all the way up to graduate level courses.”
Brueseke said this was an opportunity for students to meet different professionals and see the issues they face in the workplace, while giving students a realistic picture of the work force they are entering into.
“I was a student at K-State and I would have never imagined I would be able to come back and actually teach a class,” said Ryan Weber, president of KC Next, the technology council of Kansas City and one of the professionals who participated in the event. “It felt great to get out of the office and speak with the students. It taught me a lot and hopefully the students got that feeling, too.”
Weber partnered up with Esther Swilley, associate professor of marketing, and spoke about his work and the general growth in the technology sector in Kansas City. In his talk to Swilley’s electronic marketing class, Weber addressed the skills that were required to work in the technology sector, shared some best practices of social media and talked about real world applications of concepts included in the class syllabus.
“I think it’s extremely valuable,” Swilley said. “A lot of times, students think that teachers are out of touch with the industry and want to know what life is like in the real world. Having an event like Executive Professor-For-A-Day helps because it’s a way for professionals to come in and support the theoretical learning process.”
Swilley said the program is a great opportunity for students to broaden their network.
“One of the questions I get asked by students the most is ‘what can I do with my degree?’” Swilley said. “This is as good an opportunity as you are ever going to get to ask those kinds of questions to people who hire or know people who are hiring.”
Swilley said that the event has helped her by allowing her to learn a lot more about the industry. As a professor teaching electronic marketing, Swilley said the industry is evolving rapidly and the opportunity to meet professionals and learn about the changes first hand, is invaluable.
“With electronic marketing, there is something new and improved coming out every week,” Swilley said. “My role as a teacher is to give my students the best and most current information. Bringing in people like Ryan (Weber) helps me do that.”
Weber said he hoped the program was as beneficial to students as it was to him.
“It’s a two-way street really,” Weber said. “It was fun to be able to discuss what we do directly to the audience we are trying to market to. For my job, it was interesting to see that even though we spend a lot of time and effort and resources in understanding students and young people, we always have room for improvement.”
Students welcomed the idea of involving professionals in the classroom to help improve the learning process.
“I thought it was incredibly valuable to have a professional in the classroom,” said Joe Kucharski, junior in public relations. “We usually sit in class and learn about different concepts and ideas but I had never met someone who had actually implemented them. It makes the ideas a lot more real.”
Brueseke said that she was extremely pleased with the program and the active participation on the part of the alumni. She said the college will consider hosting more professionals in the coming semesters.