Weatherhead undergraduates become real-world consultants for capstone project | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Weatherhead undergraduates become real-world consultants for capstone project

Posted 5.5.2022

Weatherhead undergraduates become real-world consultants for capstone project
Magnificat High School was considering adding a new position to its marketing and communications team––but after hearing a presentation from a group of undergraduates in Weatherhead School of Management’s Action Learning course––that consideration turned into a definitive plan. 

“It helped us feel confident to invest in additional staffing in the communications area,” said Teresa Messmore, director of communications for Magnificat. “The data collected by the Case Western Reserve University students showed what we instinctively knew would be a good idea.”

Action Learning is a senior capstone course at Weatherhead in which interdisciplinary teams of management students complete business consulting projects for real organizations. The teams are coached by experienced management consultants.
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The Magnificat project the student team consulted on was streamlining and establishing control and guidelines for the high school's social media presence. 

The Weatherhead student team consisted of fourth-year students: Ella Dong, majoring in accounting and finance; Joy Mason, majoring in business management with a concentration in healthcare management and a minor in psychology; and Ziyi Zhang, majoring in finance and business management with a concentration in supply chain management.

The students met with representatives of Magnificat biweekly for the first half of the semester and on a weekly basis for the second half.

“Before each client meeting with Magnificat, we would meet as a team to create a meeting agenda to make sure we knew everything we wanted to share with our clients,” said Zhang. 

“Our objective was to increase their social media engagement 10% by the second quarter of 2023 across their main social media platforms,” added Mason. “In order to do this we had four different types of research.”

The first part of research the student team completed was market research, where they analyzed the social media accounts of Magnificat’s competitors, including both local and regional high schools. 

Next, the team surveyed Magnificat students, parents and the school’s social media managers––who are staff members and students that run subsidiary accounts––to get a better sense on how each group felt about their social media accounts and how they interact with them.

“For students and parents, we focused on what content they want to see and if they viewed social media accounts before applying or enrolling at Magnificat,” Mason said. “For the account managers, we looked at the training they received, how often they engage with their own pages and if their posts align with the mission of the school’s brand.” 

Another part of the research was holding informational interviews with social media managers from St. Ursula Academy in Toledo, Ohio, and from Case Western Reserve to learn about best practices for maintaining brand consistency. 

The final step of their research was using a focus group within the high school.

“Magnificat has a student marketing club who help to create content for their social pages,” Mason said. “We wanted to find ways to convey the mission of the brand with this group and learn more about the inside student perspective.”

The Weatherhead students presented their research findings at the end of the semester to representatives of Magnificat, including Messmore, members of the senior leadership team, board members and Magnificat’s president. 

The students also offered suggestions that would help improve engagement on the social media accounts. Some of these involve posting more often, adding additional personnel within the communications team to gather content and analyze data, and tweaking content to align with posts that have received high engagement in the past, while still meeting the goals and branding mission of the high school.

Magnificat is working to implement the suggestions the Weatherhead students offered and the high school plans to post the new position for its marketing and communications team this summer.

“The students were extremely professional and hard working,” Messmore said. “The team took the project seriously going above and beyond to get to know our school and our challenges in order to create solutions. We’re grateful for their hard work.”

From 2005-2021, over 325 projects have been completed through the Weatherhead Action Learning course with over 190 organizations served.

“It’s a super valuable course,” Mason said. “The course seemed daunting at the beginning of the semester because it’s working on a real-world project, but I’m so proud of the project we did and glad this is how my undergrad college career ended.”
 

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Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.