SMA Takes on NYC

Immersive. That’s the way 18 members of William & Mary’s Student Marketing Association described the trip they took in February to New York City. They embarked on a three-day excursion to experience firsthand some of the world’s top marketing executives in action, many of whom are alumni of W&M’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business.

The trip included stops at Dolce & Gabbana, Ogilvy & Mather, Grand Army, IBM, Trade Desk and LinkedIn, as well as an intimate William & Mary alumni networking reception.

“The two days were very diverse in terms of the businesses we explored, and I am so impressed with the students’ level of engagement,” said Dawn Edmiston, clinical associate professor of marketing, who traveled with the students. She especially praised the alumni reception.

“I should have recorded it,” she said, with a laugh. “There were so many special lessons learned. I am always so moved by how our Tribe is continually willing to support us.”

Sophomore Lexi Gossom agreed, adding, “Because of our shared experiences, we were able to relate to and connect with each other at a deeper level than at other networking events. Although there may be new buildings or different professors, the traditions of William & Mary remain unchanged.”

Gossom said she learned a lot about company culture from visiting with employers.

“One big takeaway from all the companies was that the employees consider their coworkers their friends and build a strong community within their companies based on shared values,” she said. “I want to make sure the company I work for reflects the same positive environment.”

Senior Madelin Bender said the companies place an emphasis on hiring well-rounded employees.

“It is important to be creative, but you also need to have analytical skills,” she said. “Most marketing jobs are split 50-50 on these two different realms.”

This was the second SMA New York trip for Bender, who said the lessons she learned will help in her career.

“Everyone was very professional and outgoing,” she said. “Overall, I don’t think it could have gone any better.”

She praised the SMA, of which she has been a member for four years.

“I have learned so much,” she said. “They always have an event that benefits me, as a freshman or as a senior. It has been one of my favorite parts of college.”

Edmiston said of the trip: “It was the best. We were all just so happy to be with one another.”

Trips like these are important, she said, to give students a sense of where they are headed. One student sent a follow-up email: “I want to thank you again for allowing me to participate. Seeing all of the things I potentially can do with a marketing degree makes me that much more excited about my future and committed to working hard.”

“You want the students to know that the educations they are working so hard to earn at William & Mary will have value and meaning when they graduate,” remarked Edmiston.

“I mean, that’s what it’s all about. Honestly, I would love to think that I inspire them in my 15-week course. But the fact is that they can have a 15-minute conversation with an alum on a trip like this that they will recall even more than anything we teach in 15 weeks.”