Tyler Benavides, Laura Nicolescu, Gladstone Hukporti, Samantha Payne, Kimberly Lazzara
On August 28, I stood outside of Professor Lan Nguyen Chaplin’s classroom with eight other Consumer Behavior (MTG 461) alumni, awaiting to deliver the student-led first day of class presentation. The buzz of excitement was apparent in all of us. Professor Chaplin handpicks former students to deliver this special presentation every year. This presentation is specifically tailored for new Consumer Behavior students, to show them the best way to approach the course and to give them advice on how to succeed. Weeks of preparation went into the two sections’ presentations, with both groups organizing their schedules to meet up to practice several times before the important day. We were practicing everything we learned from the class, and we knew if we showcased what Professor Chaplin had taught us, the students would realize that they could master these key presentation skills as well. It was our responsibility to share with the current students what to take out of this class, and how it was more than just a class, it was a professional development experience.
“Timeliness is key,” stated presenter Samantha Payne, “if we are going to set an example for these new students, we’ve got to do it right.”
Professor Chaplin stresses two critical factors as indicators of professionalism. One factor is being punctual, the other factor is professional attire. We arrived twenty minutes early and not a single tennis shoe was in sight amidst our dress shoes, heels, slacks, and blazers. We were ready to show the new Consumer Behavior students what they were in for.
The first group of presenters, Gladstone Hukporti (Marketing ‘18), Kim Lazzara (Marketing ‘19), Laura Nicolescu (Marketing ‘18), Samantha Payne (Marketing ‘18), and I walked into the class and the room fell silent. Professor Chaplin gave us the floor and stepped out of the room. “This is to ensure that students can be candid with each other about my course,” explained Professor Chaplin. Each presenter moved into his or her strategic position and the PowerPoint slides were displayed. It was time to begin; all eyes were on us.
Nicolescu opened the presentation using inspirational insight with a little dash of fear, “This will be one of the hardest classes you will ever take, if not the hardest. This is not a course where you can find the answers online. But this is a course that once you get to the end of it, you feel like you can take on any challenge that life throws at you.” The tone was set for the rest of the presentation. Topics such as professionalism, group work, the midterm, and presentations were discussed.
“Professor Chaplin’s class made me want to be more professional in every way. I was not the same person at the end of the class compared to the beginning of it,” said Hukporti during his slide. That was the key takeaway for the presentation: you are not the same person from beginning to end. You learn skills that transcend just college life; you learn skills for the business world.
The lessons and advice were the same for the second group of presenters: Karolina Godlewski (Marketing ‘19), Dovile Guzauskaite (Marketing ‘19), Stefano Quaranta (Marketing ‘19), and Allan Rodriguez (Marketing ‘18). Wise words came from Rodriguez as he stated, “Leave your ego at the door. Be humble with your team. Arrogance and thinking you know it all will only hinder your growth in this course,” which was reiterated by presenters several times in both presentations. Students were surprised to hear how succeeding in this course was much different from other courses. It is not just studying that’s required, it’s opening your mind and building your soft skills in business. Their attention never fleeted from the presenters.
“Choose your teammates wisely. Your team’s work is a large factor for your grade, so find the hard workers and the go getters. Make new friends and bond closely so you all can succeed,” cautioned Guzauskaite. Group work and presentations are the core of Consumer Behavior, and it’s where students learn the most about working with each other and about themselves. Strong friendships are made every semester in this course, as team work can be fun when the team is bonding and dedicated.
After these presentations were given, the current students had the opportunity to ask the presenters any questions that came to mind. After a few seconds of silence as classmates turned to look at one another, wondering whose hand would be the first to go up, the first student voiced his question, “What is the most valuable lesson that we’re supposed to get out of this class?”
I had the perfect answer, saying, “It is different for every student. If you make your new best friend in this class, you’ll think it is building relationships. If you think you’ve grown a lot in this class, you’ll think it is self-improvement. Every experience is unique for each individual.”
Lazzara chimed in, “She’s right. In my personal experience, I found that I got out of my comfort zone a lot. I never knew that presenting could become one of my strongest skills, so much so, that I’d be giving this presentation in front of you guys today. I really loved seeing my confidence grow like that.”
Another student somewhat reluctantly raised her hand, asking, “What if we don’t do well in this course even after all that you’ve shared with us. How does that reflect on our teams and ourselves?” Slow nods of agreement came from the surrounding students and their eyes landed back on us.
“You do the best that you can do, that’s a part of getting to know yourself. As for your team, just talk to them. If you need to drop the course, explain that to them, if not, then still help your team do the best they can do through the end. One individual’s grade in a team doesn’t reflect on the whole team,” said Quaranta.
“Keep in mind, this class is about so much more than just grades. I have grown so much academically, professionally, and personally because of Professor Chaplin and this class,” Godlewski commented, “It is not about Professor Chaplin changing you, it is about you changing yourself. She just gives you the tools and guidance to do so, I hope you give yourself a chance to grow too.”
The presenters wrapped up their Q&As and all the students in both classes gave a round of applause. Students’ opinions were heartwarming to hear, expressing their honesty and excitement about what was to come.
Alicia Bowers, a current student in the course, shared her thoughts on the presentation saying, “At first, the presentation given by the former students was intimidating. I had no prior knowledge about the course, so hearing about their experience was helpful. During the presentation, they did not sugar coat or downplay the difficulty of this course, however, they did express how beneficial the course was to their professional growth and it showed.” Bowers also expressed how she was inspired through our presentations to do her best in the course, saying, “They were extremely comfortable in front of the class; they displayed professional presentation skills that I know I would gain upon the completion of the Consumer Behavior course. I was impressed with their professional conduct and their willingness to be challenged in Professor Chaplin's class. Ultimately, they catalyzed my excitement for the course and inspired me to embrace the challenge.”
Each presenter was smiling hard after the presentation, as this was just as exciting for us too. Each kind word was rewarding, and as more and more students came up to us after the class, we knew that we had accomplished our goal. Lending past experiences and advice to help current students is something we would gladly do as much as we can. It is always a good feeling to help others. We sincerely hope the students do their best and we can’t wait to see all that they are capable of!
Allan Rodriguez, Karolina Godlewski, Dovile Guzauskaite, Stefano Quaranta