When it comes to collegiate marketing, UW-Whitewater is a powerhouse.
For the eighth time since 2001, the American Marketing Association (AMA) took home International Chapter of the Year honors at the annual conference in New Orleans.
The event, held March 21-23, brought together members from more than 350 chapters in North America.
"It's an experience I'll never forget," said Austin Durham, a senior from Cross Plains. "Winning best chapter was amazing, especially since we're seen as the school everyone's trying to beat."
As co-president of UW-Whitewater AMA, Durham helped author the 20-page annual report outlining the chapter's professional development, community service, fundraising, membership data and communications.
What's most challenging, he said, is translating the incredible (and sometimes intangible) experiences gained while being a member of AMA into writing.
"The friends and interpersonal skills you'll acquire are great," said Durham, who also was named Student Marketer of the Year runner-up at the conference. "Companies and mentors come to campus to get you ready for the business world."
"We're really good at getting students jobs - that's definitely a strength that UW-Whitewater has that a lot of schools don't," said Jimmy Peltier, AMA adviser. "Judges were impressed by the various programs we have that link employers with students."
Durham, who graduates in May, is evidence of that. He's landed a job as a sales representative at CINTAS Corp. in Madison, and will participate in a training program to become a manager within two years.
UW-Whitewater also earned a coveted spot in the finals of the annual Case Competition.
"It's one of the greatest group projects ever invented," Durham said.
Sponsored by Donate Life America, this year's competition involved creating an integrated marketing plan for the non-profit organization.
Teams submitted proposals last semester, and the finalists presented their ideas to Donate Life executives during the national conference.
About 20 AMA students help put UW-Whitewater's proposal together. Coached by Pavan Chennamaneni, assistant professor of marketing, five students made the oral presentation at the conference.
"We practiced three to four times per week, going over the script, making sure we understood the concepts," Samantha Hoerchner, a junior from Germantown, said. "We performed in front of advisers and classes, trying to get as much feedback as possible."
UW-Whitewater finished a close second to British Columbia Institute of Technology, and ahead of University of Pennsylvania, University of Arizona and University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Hoerchner had individual success as well, winning third place and the $2,000 EBSCO Scholar Award. This summer, she starts an internship with Kohl's Corp. as a merchandise analyst.
"I'll be looking at clothing trends and best practices, why certain shirts worked and others didn't," she said. "I'd like to be a buyer someday - someone who decides what ends up in stores."
She credits AMA as a major factor in her success.
"My time in AMA has been one of the most interesting and wonderful experiences of my college career," Hoerschner said. "If you're willing to invest that time, the rewards are plentiful."