Alumni help iLabs students prep for market research presentations

Crystle Uyeda (’08 B.B.A.) has been in their shoes.

She experienced the same nerves before it came time to present market research in front of an audience.

Rapid heartbeat. Clammy hands. The occasional tremble.

So when the University of Michigan-Dearborn alumna returned to campus, she had one piece of advice to share with a group of College of Business (COB) students involved in iLabs, the university’s Center for Innovation Research (iLabs).

“Be confident.”

Uyeda, senior project director at Gongos Research, is among a host of UM-Dearborn alumni who recently visited their alma mater to help iLabs students prepare for market research presentations.

“Once you start to get really comfortable and confident in what you’re doing and you understand that what you’re doing can really help people, then you start to get more passionate,” Uyeda said. “That fear of, ‘Oh I don’t know what I’m talking about,’ starts to go away.”

Over the past five months, UM-Dearborn students administered and analyzed data from the iLabs COB Graduate and Undergraduate Exit surveys. The survey collects the opinions of graduating students regarding their COB experiences and benchmarks the college’s efforts.

On May 22, students presented their findings to COB faculty and leadership, as part of their semester-long project for iLabs.

“Not only are our students getting insight from top market research firms, but they also get an opportunity to work with people who were once in their shoes,” said iLabs Director Tim Davis, who along with iLabs Assistant Director Nicole Mangis, recruited iLabs alumni to help students. “By bringing iLabs alumni back to campus, we can connect students with employers to ensure that they are leaving the university with the necessary skills to excel in any industry.”

UM-Dearborn junior Josh Hohner plans to pursue a career in consulting, so he relished the opportunity to bounce ideas off market research professionals.

“They said it’s OK if what you say isn’t the same each time because no one else knows,” said Hohner, who admits his confidence grew after speaking with Uyeda in preparation for his final presentation. “I don’t have to say everything perfect every time. I just have to convey what I have to convey and get a complete handle on the wording of every question.”

Davis plans to build upon this year’s project by inviting more iLabs alumni to campus to help students prep for market research presentations.

“Our students were able to fine-tune their presentations and connect with market research professionals at the same time,” Davis said. “It’s really a win-win for our students.”

More than 115 UM-Dearborn students have participated in iLabs projects since 2006.

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