I have been a teaching assistant for market research, market analysis, and a range of other marketing classes for students for over 7 years (yikes! It’s been that long). From what I have experienced both myself as a student when I was an undergraduate, and from what I am seeing now from the other side as a company that works with students on guided projects, I have to say that education, in its current state, encourages too much dreaming and not enough doing. (For those of you wondering about the unicorn, I chose the photo because I’m pretty sure students see the real world as rainbows and unicorns right now and are pretty shielded from the potential hardship of building a career.)
Think about the projects you have been asked to work on while you were in school. You never had to prove that your ideas actually worked in the real world. I can’t count the number of times students have come up with a “sky’s the limit” marketing idea, only to blank out when questioned on the reality of their “conservative” financials. We have not taught them to implement.
For any entrepreneur who has actually built a business from the ground up – by this I mean you had a plan, incorporated a company, got actual customers through the door, broke even, became profitable, hired staff, etc. you KNOW that the idea is 1% of the business; the remaining 99% is our sweat, blood and tears.
So why do we get stuck on teaching that 1% instead of the 99%, which is more relevant to what students will experience in the real world? Imagine if we asked students to come up with a business and actually implement the idea? That they would be graded on the actual sales results of whatever their campaign generated? They would definitely learn a whole different set of skills than just entering financials into excel and making a pretty powerpoint.
So to all educators out there, whether you are a professor, teacher, teaching assistant, or whomever you may be who may have an influence on the next generation of students…teach that 99% – they will need it to survive in the real world.