As a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, I take great pride in my alma mater’s mission to make a difference as “a person for others.” I was thrilled when C+R Research announced back in 2017 a new , a Jesuit high school that provides underserved students in Chicago’s Pilsen and Austin neighborhoods work-study opportunities to help pay for their education. This partnership inspired me to reflect upon how I could do more to pay it forward to the community that was responsible for my education.
Introducing the All-Star Alumni Mentorship Program
In the fall of 2017, Dr. Stacy Neier Beran, Ph.D., a Senior Lecturer at Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business in honor of her 10th anniversary teaching Quinlan’s undergraduate marketing research course (my favorite class I took while studying at Loyola). Dr. Beran invited her network of Quinlan alumni to join her course as advisors to her students as they developed and executed marketing research projects for Chicago-based clients including Hoy, BMO Harris, Epic Burger, and Loyola Athletics, to name a few. When she first introduced the idea to me, I immediately knew I had to get involved.
C+R’s Active Advisors
Nearly 40 Quinlan alumni from across the country participated in the inaugural mentorship program, including two C+R Research colleagues, Emma Anderson, and Andrew Bastian. As mentors, we coach and support undergraduate marketing students through the research process by providing the authentic, hands-on professional perspective that is often absent from college classrooms. As noted in a recent write-up of this innovative educational model, “it doesn’t get more real-world than [this].”
“It’s definitely not just the students who get something out of the program,” says Anderson, who graduated from Loyola in 2015. “This program has offered me a chance to start developing mentorship skills while still relatively early on in my career. Plus, I’m able to provide great insight into what skills and research fundamentals today’s students need to have a successful market research career. After all, these are our future colleagues and industry professionals!”
Through Slack, an online collaboration app which serves as the program’s primary communication channel, alumni can answer student questions in real-time and stay engaged throughout the course of the semester, providing feedback and input along the way.
"It’s been a great experience sharing knowledge about how C+R conducts market research through the Slack app,” says Bastian, who is also a member of Loyola’s 2015 graduating class. “I’ve enjoyed seeing how the students have applied the knowledge we’ve shared to the projects they work on."
Today, the All-Star Alumni program is still going strong, and C+R continues to play a key role. In fact, just yesterday I received a Slack message from my team of students who were itching to learn more about the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process. Other questions we’ve received from students over the years include…
- What tools do you use for data analysis?
- How do you succinctly piece together all the data you have collected -- both qualitative and quantitative datasets? How do you effectively summarize the findings from your research?
- What’s the difference between an insight and a recommendation? What is the relationship between the two, and what do clients prefer receiving in their deliverables?
- What advice do you have for effectively telling stories with your data?
- What do you wish you would have known when you were conducting this project back when you took this class?
The Market Researchers of Tomorrow
Through this mentorship program, C+R employees have the privilege to serve as advisors to the bright marketing minds of tomorrow -- who might even turn into our clients (or co-workers) one day. It’s encouraging to see students take pride in the research projects they design, conduct and present for actual clients. For many students, this course is their first experience interacting with clients, so advising students on two of C+R’s passions and foundational pillars -- committed client service and conducting great research -- has been uniquely rewarding. Sharing our deep perspective and industry expertise will undoubtedly go far in helping these students navigate the “real world’ once they finish their education. But, perhaps more importantly, our mentorship will inspire these future researchers to pay it forward themselves – wherever their promising careers take them!