Velez says the Lehigh College of Business MS in Management (aka M2) program offered her a chance to sharpen real-world talents and discover areas that she had never considered.
M2 is a 10-month, full-time, cohort program designed for students with a non-business undergraduate degree and less than one year professional work experience. The goal of the program is to provide a path from college to career by building business skills, defining career goals, honing business acumen, and providing experiential learning.
Velez’s M2 cohort has 40 students. One of their classes, MKT 415-Marketing Foundations, is taught by Rebecca Wang, assistant professor, marketing.
Wang says, “The M2 experience goes beyond asking students to just imagine they are working for XYZ Company.” Specifically, in Velez’s class, Wang arranged a consulting job with the nonprofit AEquitas, whose mission is to improve access to and the quality of justice in gender-based violence and human trafficking cases.
AEquitas wanted consulting around increasing brand awareness and generating a new revenue stream with an online store. Lehigh students from various programs have cooperated on projects with AEquitas for more than four years. “I would say we are thought partners,” says Jennifer Long, AEquitas CEO and Lehigh grad (her dad, husband, brother, brother-in-law and father-in-law are also Lehigh alum). “The technical and analytical skills these students have are fantastic.”
For the MKT-415 project, Wang’s class was divided into seven groups, each tasked with finding solutions to AEquitas’ challenge. Students presented their initial take and revised versions to Long over Zoom during multiple days that included recommending a platform, product analysis, graphics and logo design, regression analysis, demand forecast, pricing and social media strategy.
“Professor Wang had us dive in and understand who it was that we were working with, which is something that I expect to do after the M2 program, wherever I go,” says Velez. “Our group didn't approach it like a school project. We approached it like a real-world problem, this wasn't just for a grade.”
“If we were to do this on our own, we would just be picking products randomly without any thought,” says Long. “I get a lot out of working with them. Even the things we don't implement, it gives me something aspirational. I can see, every time I work with Lehigh, how our organization could scale when we get the capacity. I learned a lot from the experience. So I'm very, very grateful.”
Velez says she’s proven to herself that her mind is more flexible than she thought. “I'm enjoying things that I never ever thought that I would. I don't like math at all. I don't like numbers, but I loved accounting,” she laughs. “Now, I'm feeling more complete and ready to go into the real world, whatever that means.”
Story by Rob Gerth