The importance of internships for undergraduate students

Peggy Gilbertson
Internship Coordinator
UMSL |Business


Very few undergraduate students have jobs lined up while they are students unless they know they will work for a family business.  This is what makes getting involved in as many internships as possible while still a student so important.   Students should realize that they should start building that resume as soon as possible once they are in college in order to make them stand out and be put on the top of the stack when recruiters are comparing the dozens (or even hundreds) of resumes they may receive for one opening.

Statistics from the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) 2014 Internship & Co-op Survey indicate that the 67% of the graduating class of 2013 had at least one internship while in school and 32% had at least two. All students should want to be in that second group!  Many employers look at their internship class first when they are hiring since there is already a familiarity with the student.   This same survey states that 64.8% of employers made fulltime offers to their current interns.

Having the opportunity to work for an organization using skills learned in school while still in school is priceless.  The even better news is that almost all Business internships are paid, and those that aren’t are typically very flexible in working around a student’s schedule and other part-time job hours.  Even if an internship is not paid, the benefit is that you hopefully have a great reference for future jobs and an opportunity to get another internship that would be paid.  Students as early as sophomores can easily find unpaid internships which could lead to 2 or 3 more paid internships before they graduate.

Having “real world” experience not only makes a student more marketable but helps a student determine if they really are on the right career path.  I have seen many instances of students who report back to me after they have completed an internship that they are so glad they found out while still a student that the field they thought they wanted to get into is not what they really thought it would be.   If they still have several semesters left before graduation, it is much easier to change emphasis areas than having graduated and possibly having to return to school for another degree.

And to top it all off, many students are eligible to receive academic credit for an internship.  Who wouldn’t want to take one less class and not have homework and tests and in most cases get paid at the same time!

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Developing Your Social Media Marketing Plan


Perry D. Drake
Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing


The basic function of marketing as we know it has changed.  It is no longer acceptable to simply push out a message or grab someones attention with a catchy slogan.  You must be able to hold their attention.  It is all about creating content to engage the consumer.  This is where social media comes into play.

Many businesses both big and small fail at profiting from implementing a social media strategy.  Remember, social media isn’t a separate part of your marketing efforts. It must be integrated into your overall marketing strategy for social medial to be effective.

I have developed a simple 9 step process to consider when building any marketing plan and in particular a social media marketing plan (see Figure 1 below).

 Figure 1 Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Understanding Your Customers
Knowing your customers will help you assess the types of media to consider.  And, the emphasis to place on each.  Are your customers older?  Are they more likely female? Where are they likely to purchase/shop?

Where Are You Now?
Who are your competitors and what are they doing promotionaly.  What is their market share compared to yours.  What is your market potential?

A great blog article on helping you understand the steps to market sizing is:  The Ins and Outs of Sizing Your Market

Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Strengths – Do you have better customer service, better technology, bigger name recognition?
Weaknesses – Do you have fewer locations than your competitor, lower perceived value?
Opportunities – Are you moving into a unique and niche market?  Is your competitor less nimble and capable of change?
Threats – A new competitor could move in quickly, no patent, easy entry.

Check out the following article to help you lay out an effective SWOT analysis:  Discover New Opportunities, Manage and Eliminate Threats

State Objectives
What are you trying to achieve here:

  • Increase the customer base
  • Increase sales
  • Reduce attrition
  • Enhance awareness

Know Your Audience
Detail your segments for targeting and the unique qualities of each regarding demographic, psycho- graphic and behavioral data.  This will be key to understanding the most appropriate social media strategy for each segment.

Select Your Social Media Channels
There are four dimensions you will need to consider here for purposes of building an effective strategy.

1.  What social media channels make the most sense for your segments? Consider setting a priority of which social media to implement first, second and third.  Especially if there are budget and resource constraints.  This is very important.  But, do NOT make the mistake of thinking you must be in every social media channel available.  Some may not make sense for your business model.

2.  Next think about if you will need a blog or a YouTube Channel?  There are many other beneftis to blogging such as SEO and link building.   Here is a great article by Search Engine Watch that may help:  Why Blog: The Benefits of Business Blogging for Visitors & Links

3.  What about gamification of your brand or service?  For example, badges for completing so many tasks.  Serves as a great retention tool. Check out this Mashable article:  How to Gamify Your Marketing

4,  And lastly, do you need to worry about monitoring ratings?  Do coupon sites make sense? What about social commerce?

Ensure a Good User Experience (UX)
As you lay out your plan, ensure you are representing the brand consistently across all channels both social, digital and traditional regarding the look, feel, price, options, etc.  You do not want to confuse the customer.  Be very deliberate here.

Regarding mobile, ensure your sites are working well in this environment with good responsive design and a supporting app if that makes sense.  Remember, we are using mobile and tablets at higher and higher rates every day to access the web.  So you need to be where your customers are.  And, you need to give them a good experience.  Consider this article to help you decide:  Mobile Site or Mobile App?

The Action Plan
Lay out every step to execute the plan identifying responsible parties and due dates.  Set your budget.  Do not forget the tools.  You will need tools to monitor your social efforts like Hootsuite. Additionally, to help you understand what percent of your budget should be allocated to social, use this calculator to help you get started:  Digital Marketing Budget Calculator

Monitor, Manage and Measure
Name one person to oversee the execution of the plan, hold regular update meetings.  And lastly, define how you will determine success of your efforts by establishing measurable KPI’s.

Hope you find this road map helpful.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Perry D. Drake

Drake, Perry. “Drake Direct Roundtable: Developing Your Social Media Marketing Plan.” Drake Direct Roundtable: Developing Your Social Media Marketing Plan. N.p., 20 July 2014. Web. 28 July 2014. <>.

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Bremen – Summer 2014

Richard Navarro


Richard A Navarro
Assistant Teaching Professor of Information Systems


Bremen Germany may be best known to some of us as the Brothers Grimm fairytale home of a Donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster … the Bremen Musicians.
bremenBremen Germany is becoming well known as the home of the Hoschuler Bremen, a science and business oriented university and one of UMSL’s summer study abroad partner universities.

Summer 2014 saw thirteen UMSL students joining 165 other students from 33 countries who have come together with an international faculty as part of the Hochuler Bremen International Summer Institute K program. Our UMSL participants enrolled in courses varying from German culture and language to International Project Management.  The program offers students the opportunity to earn up to six credit hours, to interact with a truly global student body, to travel, and to grow.

Bremen itself is a medium sized city and, although 60 km from the North Sea, a major seaport.  It has a pleasant climate.  It has an active downtown area, modern shopping, covered pedestrian malls, and rathskellers and  restaurants, disco clubs and climbing walls. Class schedules are structured to afford maximum travel opportunities and Bremen  is connected to the rest of Germany and Europe by a fine, convenient, and easy to navigate rail system that well supports ones weekend travel plans, and … it is, in short, a fine place to spend a month..

Interested?   Contact Dr. Rottmann to see if there is Germany in your future.

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Even at the beginning of their career, employees should save for retirement

Greg Geisler


Greg Geisler, PhD, CPA
Associate Professor of Accounting


According to a recent study titled “Retirement Account Options When Beginning a Career” by Gregory Geisler, associate professor of accounting at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Jerry Stern, professor of accounting at Indiana University-Bloomington, which appeared in the May, 2014 issue of the “Journal of Financial Service Professionals” and was recently highlighted in an article in USA Today, the coauthors said there is a three-step decision-making hierarchy to follow. “This hierarchy is what will make the individual wealthiest after considering taxes,” Geisler told USA Today.

Those steps include:

1st) Contributing enough to their employer-sponsored retirement account (e.g., 401(k), 403(b)) to receive the maximum matching contribution from their employer. Some employers offer a Roth retirement account and for new employees starting their careers who plan to save throughout their careers for retirement, this is the best option. Even if your employer does not offer the Roth option, still contribute enough to your 401(k) (or 403(b)) to receive the maximum employer match.

2nd) If the new employee still has funds available to fund retirement accounts after following the first step, contribute to a Roth IRA because the investment choices available are much larger than inside an employer-sponsored retirement account. For 2014, federal tax law allows a maximum of $5,500 to be contributed by an employed individual under age 50 to their IRA accounts. The second step can be skipped if the new employee likes the investment choices available inside their employer-sponsored retirement account.

3rd) If the new employee still has funds available to fund retirement accounts, make unmatched contributions to their 401(k) (or 403(b)). Again, if the Roth 401(k) (or Roth 403(b)) option is available, that is recommended. For 2014, federal tax law allows a maximum of $17,500 to be contributed by an employee under age 50 to their 401(k) (or 403(b)) accounts, although some employer’s plans may not allow that much.

“For investments in Roth retirement accounts, regardless of whether tax rates are rising, falling or remaining constant over time, employees can depend on their annualized after-tax rates of return and future after-tax values to be unaffected by their changing marginal tax rates,” Geisler and Stern wrote in their study.

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Embrace the disruption, don’t fight it!

Perry D. Drake
Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing


I bet you are feeling the disruption due to technology advances either in your personal life or workplace?  Am I correct?  And I bet you are feeling overwhelmed at times by these disruptions?  Yes?  Trying to stay on top of the latest computer advances, technologies, medias, communication vehicles, apps, mobile devices, advances in tracking software, and online security issues is not easy to say the least.

Well, don’t feel alone.

We are all feeling the impact here.  But here is the deal…embrace these disruptions and adapt and become stronger as a result or as a business you will be out on the streets.  These advances are not likely to slow down any time soon, guaranteed.

Two months ago I was invited to speak on the uses of social media and digital technologies at an AGTA (Airport Ground Transportation Association) conference being held in Clearwater Florida.  And, I was honored to have been asked.

Listening to the 3 keynote speakers prior me going on stage, I heard fear and anger from the AGTA about Lyft and Uber who are infringing on cab and livery drivers turf at airports, hotels, and about town.  I heard them talk about the poor quality of the Uber driver and how they are not licensed, or insured in some cases, or have criminal records.  They went on for over an hour.  I felt hatred, anger, confusion and many emotions pouring out of them that morning during the keynote.  But you know what, I get it.  They are being disrupted by technology.  Just the latest victim due to technological advances.  I totally get it.  But talking badly about Uber or Lyft is not going to make it all go away.  The consumer has spoken.  And they love the ability to open an app, click and have a car at their door.  And, in this day and age of social media, the consumer is in complete control.  The tables have turned.  So, when I got up to start my talk I told them not to feel alone.  I told them they are not the only ones feeling the pains and sense of confusion.  We all are, even us academics like myself.  Yes, even academics.

In case you did not realize we academics are undergoing a major disruption in the University setting.  MAJOR!  In academia we are being disrupted by what we call MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses.  Courses that are being offered online for free and in some cases full semester courses.  Khan Academy and Coursera are just two such web sites offering these courses from universities like Rutgers and Harvard.  Many universities like mine do not know what to do.  The way we deliver content to students is changing and changing quickly and if we do not adapt we will have no students to teach.   It is that simple.  I cannot tell you how many committees I am on right now dealing with this issue.  But you know what, I love it.  I, like many of my peers, are embracing the challenge and trying to figure out how we can make education more affordable, convenient and a better overall experience for the students all due to technological advances.

Brands too have and are feeling the pain.  Because of social media, they have lost the ability to simply push out a message and expect us consumers to passively accept that message as fact.  Now us consumers have the control.  We can tell our friends what we think of the brand, their products and the type of customer support (good or poor) we receive.  Brands have totally had to change the way they interact with us consumers as a result of social media all caused by advances in mobile technology.  And, those brands that do not understand this simple fact, well, will be left out in the cold.

But two of the the biggest disruptions I can think of were (1) Naspter and (2) travel agencies.

Napster, although what they were doing was illegal, totally changed the way music was purchased and delivered and consumed.  Probably one of the largest disruptions out there due to advances in technology.

And what about the once vibrant travel agency business model.  Remember them?  Or maybe you don’t.  In this case it was the adoption of the Internet alone that changed that business model and killed off travel agencies (except for those dealing with exotic vacations).  Apps or mobile had nothing to do with this feat.  Travelocity, Kayak and others killed the travel agency businesses.  Wow, not that is a disruption.

So Mr Cab Driver we are all being disrupted.  You are not alone.  You (and all of us) have two choices.  Either site back and fight it and lose or, embrace all that technology can bring and use it to our full advantage to build even a better business model.  The later will be more fun and give much better odd of success.  Guaranteed.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Perry D. Drake
Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing,
University of Missouri – St. Louis
Follow me on Twitter:
Linkedin Profile:

Drake, Perry. “Drake Direct Roundtable.” Drake Direct Roundtable. N.p., 25 June 2014. Web. 26 June 2014. <>.


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UMSL Business is committed to preparing students for professional success in technically sophisticated local and global organizations. Our faculty are highly-qualified teachers and researchers. The UMSL Business Blog is a space for faculty from all departments and centers to generate discussion pertaining to their areas of expertise.

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