With talk of budget cuts threatening program offerings, there is yet a bright spot. While other departments may be forced to choose which majors to cut, the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) has been adding them instead.
Just last year, the LSBE decided to start offering a Bachelor's of Business Administration (BBA) in Economics per the recommendation of education consultants, according to UMD Department Head of Economics Dr. A. Maureen O'Brien. The BBA degree combines business classes with a major in another focus, like finance, marketing, or healthcare management.
Also new within the range of BBA majors is Retail Marketing Analytics Program (ReMAP). ReMAP lets students delve deeper into pragmatic aspects of marketing, like analyzing company databases and learning how to maximize the efficaciousness of an advertising campaign. The first cohort of ReMAP majors graduated in 2012. Every single one of them were working full-time after graduation.
Kelsey Steiner, a member of the first ReMAP class, says that the major prepared her for the job market.
"[UMD] was the first undergraduate program to offer something like this," she said, adding that the skills she learned while in the ReMAP program were immediately applicable to her internship at Best Buy over the summer before her senior year.
"While searching for a full-time position [I] leveraged [my] internship at Best Buy, as well as the ReMAP major to get a job at Olson," Steiner said. Olson is the largest advertising agency in Minneapolis, according to Steiner.
As soon as she started at Olson, Steiner was able to hit the ground running. Her knowledge of specific statistical programming languages exceeded even that of her co-workers. She was so effective that after only a few months her boss sat her down and asked if there were any current ReMAP seniors that she would recommend to fill staff shortages. "It's really hard to differentiate yourself as a marketing major, but ReMAP sets you apart," Steiner said.
Senior Mark Lidstone chose to do a ReMAP major because it uses mathematics in a practical and interesting way. Many ReMAP graduates work in the consumer-retail industry, but the working knowledge acquired is useful for just about any company large enough to strategically advertise. Lidstone says that ReMAP combines theoretical marketing psychology with practical expertise on how to apply it effectively. "The skills that we learn can be applied across all industries," he said.
Perhaps that's why employers are in hot pursuit of ReMAP graduates. Companies like General Mills, Nielsen, and Target all recruited on-campus during Lidstone's junior year. Lidstone spent last summer doing an internship at Target and received an offer to return full-time after graduation. Like Steiner, his bosses were so impressed by his training that they too asked if Lidstone knew anyone else in the ReMAP program that they could hire.
Students can minor in ReMAP, too. Aaron Shepankik, who currently is pursuing his Master's in Applied Math here at UMD, chose to do ReMAP as a minor while an undergraduate. "I thought Marketing and Business Administration seemed 'old school,’ and that every school in the nation offered those degrees,” Shepanik said. “When LSBE introduced ReMAP, it seemed so unique. After looking into it, I knew it was the perfect integration of numbers and business.”
BY JOHN FAHNENSTIEL firstname.lastname@example.org
ILLUSTRATION BY JOE FRASER