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DCU Business School Practicum Day: At the crossroads of academia and practice

In Business Education, Business Plans, DCU Business School, Digital Marketing, Dublin City University, Entrepreneurship, Masters Education, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, Next Generation Management, Practicum, Theo Lynn, Uncategorized on August 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Last Friday (27 August 2010), we held the first DCU Business School Practicum Day. Starting at 8.30am, students on the MSc in Business Management and MBS in Marketing programmes displayed “research” posters, presented and answered questions regarding their major summer assignment, a group practicum.

A View From Above - some of the poster displays at DCU Business School's Practicum Day 2010

A View From Above - some of the poster displays at DCU Business School's Practicum Day 2010

A practicum is an assignment designed to give students supervised practical application of previously studied theory. In DCU Business School, we offer MBS in Marketing and MSc in Business Management students the choice of undertaking a individual dissertation, which is largely an academic piece of research, or a group practicum. We source practicums from a wide range of organisations, business and not-for-profit, and initial ideas for projects are presented to students via Moodle in February. The students make proposals for these projects and start working on them in March. A report of work completed is submitted at the end of July. Later in August, student groups present their project for 25 minutes to two assessors who then question them on their project. Feedback is provided on this interview and students then present their “research poster” and present and answer questions from an audience of peers, faculty and other guests for 10-15 minutes.

Tiernan Kennedy presenting his group's work on the use of digital marketing for international student recruitment for DCU Language Services at DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010.

Tiernan Kennedy presenting his group's work on the use of digital marketing for international student recruitment for DCU Language Services at DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010.

This year 22 groups presented their projects, which fell in to four main themes:

  • Original business plans – business ideas that students have identified, research and prepared business plans for.
  • Irish e-Business Marketing – marketing projects for Irish e-businesses
  • International Marketing – marketing projects for Irish businesses typically involving an international aspect
  • Local Businesses and Projects – marketing practicums for organisations located on the Northside of Dublin

In addition, two MSc in E-commerce (Business) groups presented their original business plans relating to online mannequins and mobile apps. (The MSc in E-commerce (Business) is a jointly offered programme with the School of Computing and has a separate presentation day earlier in August.)

The Perigord Team fielding questions at the DCU Business School Practicum Day

The Perigord Team fielding questions at the DCU Business School Practicum Day

Overall the day was very enjoyable and interesting. It gave students both the opportunity to (i) clarify issues raised or unaddressed from their report and interview and to (ii) see and appreciate the efforts of their peers. As well as students, guests including faculty,  industry, other members of the University, incoming students and parents attended. All were impressed with the quality and volume of work. Unlike dissertations, students have the opportunity to address a real-world problem with a live client or indeed pursue their own business idea.

The Foodies' Edu-plate Nutritional Learning Toy

The Foodies' Edu-plate Nutritional Learning Toy

As every business and context was different, approaches and projects varied dramatically and really brought individual competences to the fore including ideation, industrial design and digital marketing skills. The DCU Business School Practicum Programme also gives the Business School an opportunity to engage with the wider business community and forms a central part of our civic engagement strategy.

This year the projects had a strong digital marketing element and the students ably demonstrated their skills in integrating a wide range of activities including:

Professor Darach Turley discusses practicums with Marie Mooney at DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010.

Professor Darach Turley discusses practicums with Marie Mooney at DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010.

However, digital marketing was not the only focus. Work on best practice tendering process, brand communications and sales training featured strongly as well as the financial planning skills inherent in any business plan. All groups presented well and confidently fielding difficult and awkward questions at times. It struck me that from a communications perspective, they had all managed to reduce over 10,000 word reports to 25 minute presentations then to 7 minute presentations and then ultimately one page – no mean feat! And at the end of the day, I certainly was satisfied that these students can hit the ground running in the job market with both the theory and practical skills need in today’s economy.

The roll of honour:

Theme 1 – Original Business Plans

  • Foodies – an educational toy for teaching good nutrition.
The Foodies Team - Deirdre Shanahan, Terence Bowden, Aisling Meleady and Sophie Gavard - at their poster. The group brought their multidisciplanary background to develop a business plan for an educational toy for teaching children good nutritional habits.

The Foodies Team - Deirdre Shanahan, Terence Bowden, Aisling Meleady and Sophie Gavard - at their poster. The group brought their multidisciplanary background to develop a business plan for an educational toy for teaching children good nutritional habits.

  • Online Fits – an 3-D body shape visualisation solution for online clothing retail sites.
Katia Zavershinskaya, David Gilchrist and Enkeled Uldedaj explain 3-D body shape visualisation in their Online Fits practicum project.

Katia Zavershinskaya, David Gilchrist and Enkeled Uldedaj explain 3-D body shape visualisation in their Online Fits practicum project.

  • Sample Circus – a circus-themed event-based tryvertising business for the cosmetics industry.
Cara Kennedy, Lyn Whyte, Martina Martinez-Cano and Caroline Mullen present their poster on Sample Circus at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Cara Kennedy, Lyn Whyte, Martina Martinez-Cano and Caroline Mullen present their poster on Sample Circus at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

  • Dot Dot Dot Fashion Marketing – a digital marketing business for emerging fashion designers.
Stephen Conway, Valeria deFeudis, Emmy Rangel Calderas, Margaret Connolly and Nichola McHugh bring some style to the DCU Business School Practicum Day with Dot Dot Dot Fashion Marketing.

Stephen Conway, Valeria deFeudis, Emmy Rangel Calderas, Margaret Connolly and Nichola McHugh bring some style to the DCU Business School Practicum Day with Dot Dot Dot Fashion Marketing.

  • Afro Celt Airlines – an airline operating between Dublin and Lagos.
Afro-celt Airlines - Charles Okinji, John Keating,  Paul Tyrell and Stephen Osondu

Afro-celt Airlines - Charles Okinji, John Keating, Paul Tyrell and Stephen Osondu

  • SmartLED Lighting – a wholesale distributor of LED lighting solutions.
SmartLED Lighting (Keith Lawless, Andrea Bonnie, Una O'Neill, Lorna NiMhuiri and Ivan Casado) - a wholesale distributor of LED lighting solutions.

SmartLED Lighting (Keith Lawless, Andrea Bonnie, Una O'Neill, Lorna NiMhuiri and Ivan Casado) - a wholesale distributor of LED lighting solutions.

Theme 2 – Irish e-Business Marketing

  • Horseplay – digital marketing research, plan and pilot for horseplay.ie, a specialist equidae website.
Aoibhe Dunne and Conor Quinn display their Horseplay project poster.

Aoibhe Dunne and Conor Quinn display their Horseplay project poster.

  • Tenderme – digital marketing research, plan and pilot for tenderme.ie, an online tendering site.
John Cullen explains his practicum project on digital marketing for TenderMe to Professor Brian Leavy at the DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010

John Cullen explains his practicum project on digital marketing for TenderMe to Professor Brian Leavy at the DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010

Steven Nee and Khaild Hussein pose in front of their poster on their Digitary practicum.

Steven Nee and Khaild Hussein pose in front of their poster on their Digitary practicum.

  • HRLocker (UK and Ireland) – digital marketing research, plan and pilot on the Irish and UK market for HRLocker, an online HR software service.
Antonio Minuta and Carolann O'Sullivan pose in front of their research poster on HRLocker (UK and Ireland).

Antonio Minuta and Carolann O'Sullivan pose in front of their research poster on HRLocker (UK and Ireland).

Theme 3 – International Marketing

  • Toddler Holidays – digital marketing research, plan and pilot for Toddlerholidays.com, a France-based holiday home rental specialist for families with children under the age of 5.
Aideen Murphy and Ailish Tully present their findings on research and work completed for Toddler Holidays at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Aideen Murphy and Ailish Tully present their findings on research and work completed for Toddler Holidays at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

  • HR Locker (North America) – market entry and digital marketing research on the US market for HRLocker, an online HR software service.
Simon McNally, Katie Murray, Kimberley Ramsay and Siobhan Buckley and their HRLocker (North America) poster at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Simon McNally, Katie Murray, Kimberley Ramsay and Siobhan Buckley and their HRLocker (North America) poster at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

  • Dabl – market entry and localisation research on the Chinese market for Dabl, an online cardiovascular disease management system software developer.
Brian Joyce, Tien Nghiem, Guang Yang and Rachel Murray researched a Chinese market entry strategy for Dabl.ie for their practicum.

Brian Joyce, Tien Nghiem, Guang Yang and Rachel Murray researched a Chinese market entry strategy for Dabl.ie for their practicum.

Seyed Mohammad Amin Amirkhalili, Zara Walsh and Tiernan O'Kennedy in front of their research poster on international student recruitment for DCU Language Services.

Seyed Mohammad Amin Amirkhalili, Zara Walsh and Tiernan O'Kennedy in front of their research poster on international student recruitment for DCU Language Services.

  • Equinome – a marketing strategy for Equinome, an equine genetic testing service for the bloodstock industry.
The Equinome Group (Niall Clarke, Risteard Kinsella, Brendan Davis and David O'Rorke)

The Equinome Group (Niall Clarke, Risteard Kinsella, Brendan Davis and David O'Rorke)

Theme 4 – Local Businesses and Projects

  • Perigord – online communications strategy research, plan and pilot for Perigord, an online digital asset management service provider.
The Perigord Team - Ian Hemmingway, Rosemary Clancy, Eimear Murphy and Anton McMenamin

The Perigord Team - Ian Hemmingway, Rosemary Clancy, Eimear Murphy and Anton McMenamin

Damien O'Ceallaigh, Emer Keenan, Sheena O'Dowd and Roisin Lyons at their research poster at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Damien O'Ceallaigh, Emer Keenan, Sheena O'Dowd and Roisin Lyons at their research poster at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Niamh Downey and Laureen Morrissette present their poster on their North Dublin Chamber of Commerce practicum.

Niamh Downey and Laureen Morrissette present their poster on their North Dublin Chamber of Commerce practicum.

The DCU Civic Engagement Group - Cormac Hyland, Jenny Gaynor, Joanne Coughlan, Marie Mooney and Tom Muldowney.

The DCU Civic Engagement Group - Cormac Hyland, Jenny Gaynor, Joanne Coughlan, Marie Mooney and Tom Muldowney.

Aine Morris, Jenny O'Driscoll, Kate McGuinness and Diarmuid Murphy and their practicum poster on work completed for Printpac Services at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Aine Morris, Jenny O'Driscoll, Kate McGuinness and Diarmuid Murphy and their practicum poster on work completed for Printpac Services at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Tom Muldowney discusses the Timing Ireland practicum with Ed Dooley, Ciaran Dunne and David Fox at the DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Tom Muldowney discusses the Timing Ireland practicum with Ed Dooley, Ciaran Dunne and David Fox at the DCU Business School Practicum Day.

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