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IMC graduate student teams consult for influential brands during the 2021 Immersion Quarter Program

The 10-week program prepares students to collaborate, address challenges and seek opportunities with real companies.

IMC Immersion Quarter students.
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Full-Time master’s students work together in small teams to solve real-world business problems for leading brands.

EVANSTON, ILL. -- During Immersion Quarter, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Full-Time master’s students work together in small teams to solve real-world business problems for leading brands. The experience combines on-campus leadership training and guidance from Medill faculty with working on-site at a company for 10 weeks during the summer quarter.

“The Immersion Quarter Program is a premier experiential learning program that delivers immense value for our students and corporate partners,” said Gerry Chiaro, Medill assistant professor and director of the Immersion Quarter program.

Medill IMC students bring a high level of professional expertise to Immersion Quarter that is developed in classes throughout the IMC program.

Immersion Quarter is a critical component of the IMC Full Time Master's Program at the Medill School,” said Associate Dean of IMC and Associate Professor Vijay Viswanathan. “The principles of IMC namely, customer-centricity, data-driven decision making, and stakeholder management have never been more important. In just 10 weeks, small teams of IMC students provide critical insights and strategic direction for leading brands and help them compete for the future. Students and companies find immense joy in actually seeing the impact of the work done over Immersion Quarter in the marketplace.”

Lilla Bleu Bell (IMC21) worked on a team at Constellation Brands, a Fortune 500 company leading beer, wine and spirits production. Her team’s project was to develop a strategic communications plan that focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria for stakeholders and creating another communications plan highlighting the company’s water stewardship efforts.  

“This experience taught me the level of strategic thinking that is required to produce meaningful change at a company,” Bell said. “I also learned that patience and persistence are rewarded when it comes to mining for deeper insights.” This experience has refined Bell’s career outlook as she learned a new passion for strategic communications and corporate social responsibility with new network connections to assist her professional journey. 

Daniel Kramer (IMC21) also worked with Constellation Brands. Kramer said, “The experience helped me to prioritize communication, especially with senior leadership. I feel more confident in my ability to add to discussions, and I am aware of how to share my voice through appropriate channels.” Kramer gained real-world experience that led to creating close relationships with his team and developed a mentor/mentee relationship with a senior leader at the company.

Constellation Brands Vice President of Corporate Reputation and Corporate Social Responsibility Amy Martin saw an opportunity to offer a compelling, real project to challenge and engage students and in return received a creative and practical implementation plan. “Each student brought their own unique strength to the group which is why the team was so successful," said Martin. "Daniel Kramer brought his leadership, Lilla Bleu Bell was inquisitive and asked very thought-provoking questions to our team. The team was analytically focused and truly embraced Constellation Brands mission and vision, which was apparent in their recommendation.”

Akanksha Tandon (IMC21) worked with QIAGEN, a German provider of molecular diagnostics technologies. Tandon’s team developed a marketing roadmap to help reposition one of their products. Her project allowed her to practice industry and market research, marketing strategy and tactic development across the customer decision journey. “The experience equipped me with a toolkit that will help me in my career, specifically my ability to manage a project and work cross-functionally with different stakeholders to achieve a mutual goal,” said Tandon.

Miranda Hanson-Baseler, director of global campaign management, and Annette Vitkievicz, global campaign manager, oversaw Tandon during her experience at QIAGEN. “She impressed us with her strong balance of analytical and presentation skills. The ability to not only accurately analyze data but also present the results with the big picture in mind is not an easy task, and Akanksha rose to the occasion every time,” they said.

Liying Cheng (IMC21) helped develop a digital marketing plan for QIAGEN by mapping out the digital customer journey and giving recommendations based on the pain points identified. Cheng enjoyed the collaboration from multiple specialist teams that established a solid foundation for recommendations in the final presentation and developed her skills and knowledge with SEO and web analytics. “This experience of developing strategies such as the chatbot, the mobile landing page optimization, market research and the gap analysis we did has equipped me with strategic thinking skills and problem-solving skills crucial for my future career,” said Cheng.

Since 2013, student teams have participated in 207 team consulting projects with leading companies. They have received very strong satisfaction ratings with every team, exceeding or meeting sponsor expectations. In 2021, despite the pandemic and a virtual experience, student teams and project sponsors delivered excellence again with their highest level of sponsor satisfaction – 79% of projects exceeded expectations.

Learn more about Immersion Quarter.