When Lawrence Norman ’94, MBA ’95, was designing the curriculum for his new course, “Marketing to You,” the former Adidas executive-turned-professor wanted to introduce Clark students to strategies and tactics in the ever-changing field of youth marketing. To prepare the class for their next steps in a fiercely competitive industry, he helped the students become more confident presenters and get a foot in the door through internships and job opportunities.
For Suryanka Thapa ’20 and Sarah Berube ’21, the experience paid off quickly. After spending the seven-week course hearing from prominent business leaders, asking real-world questions, and sharpening their public-speaking skills through “Shark Tank”-like presentations, both students landed internships.
“I’m an extra-extrovert,” Thapa says. “I do really well with people, and that was one of the reasons I wanted to take this class. I went in intending to network. The course was very discussion-based — [Norman] wasn’t talking at us, he was talking to us — and I thrive in a classroom where everyone is speaking and asking really great questions.”
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Instead of class sessions, Norman’s course was divided into seven “episodes,” each lasting three hours. He brought in prominent guest speakers — including Boston Celtics President Rich Gotham, Puma CMO Adam Petrick, and Crazy Legs Conti, one of the world’s top competitive eaters — to present on various aspects of marketing and advertising.
“The goal was to bring in highly successful, humble leaders who were experts in their fields, yet approachable in a class setting,” Norman says. “Selfishly, I was hoping that they would consider some of the students for internships as well.”
When Wanderu CEO and co-founder Polina Raygorodskaya spoke at the second episode, Thapa leaped at the opportunity to network with the businesswoman. She asked thoughtful questions throughout the session and followed up with Raygorodskaya after class.
“She came in and she was prepared,” Thapa recalls. “She was great at presenting and answering questions, and I was intrigued.”
They exchanged information, and Thapa was offered an internship in product management at the Boston-based startup. She is doing product research and analysis, including testing a new referral program.
“I’ve always liked designing and building things, so I thought this was a perfect role for me,” says Thapa, who plans to pursue her MBA through Clark’s Accelerated B.A./Master’s Degree Program this fall. “I got a bachelor’s in management, and I wanted to incorporate that while bringing my design and data background together.”
For Berube, who is interning in communications and development at PeacePlayers International, the storytelling skills she developed throughout Norman’s marketing course have played an important role in her new job. At the nonprofit, which offers sports programming, peace education, and leadership development to communities in need, Berube gathers compelling stories from players, alumni, and coaches to highlight the program’s success.
She set her sights on the role from the moment Norman first mentioned that Brendan Tuohey, founder of PeacePlayers International, would be making an appearance partway through the course. Berube, a biochemistry and molecular biology major, says the work is different than anything she’s done before, but she hopes it will be an asset when she pursues her MBA after graduation.
“The nonprofit work is something that’s rewarding to me, and I could it see as a potential career path for myself. I’m building those connections through this work,” she says. “I’m expanding my network a lot through this internship.”
Both students have kept in touch with Norman since the semester ended and say he’s been a helpful mentor and key contact, both outside the classroom and inside the Shark Tank.