Thursday, August 2, 2012

UNO Internship Services

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UNO Internship Services

Target Market

In determining the target market for the internship program, we first segmented the market by dividing the 1,05 students enrolled at UNO to the 5, upperclassmen. We then segmented down further to the ,044 business students. Finally we narrowed the market down to our target market of juniors and seniors in pursuit of a marketing degree we could find an exact number, but we can guess between 00 to 00 students. The target market we are focusing on has varied demographics. According to the survey we distributed, however, we found that the majority of those interested in the program were seniors and 56. percent of those surveyed carried a GPA between .5 and .. Psychographically our survey showed that the target market was seeking real world experience as a benefit of the internship service.

Who is “the Provider”?

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Determining the provider of the marketing internship service at the University of Nebraska at Omaha proves difficult to pick just one provider. At first, a quick glance at the internship program might lead you to the conclusion that Dr. Holland, the faculty member in charge of the program, would be the provider. However, is Dr. Holland the only provider of service for the marketing internship program? A more in-depth look might lead to the conclusion that each business that employs a student of the marketing internship program would also be a provider of the service. Essentially, UNO is outsourcing the service of education to a third party, in this case each business with an intern.

The University obviously has to outsource this educational component in order to fulfill the main desire of most interns, the real world experience. It would be difficult for UNO to offer the real world experience to the student in the classroom. Therefore, a business is selected by the students enrolled in the internship program to satisfy this need for real world experience. This special situation means that provider gap 1 is actually two tiered.

In order to close provider gap 1, Dr. Holland and the university must have a good understanding of the students’ expectations for the internship program. On a second tier, the businesses that employ the marketing interns must have a sound knowledge of what Dr. Holland’s expectations for their firm are. Every one of the participants in the internship program must know their roles and what script to follow in order to act out their role.

The role of Dr. Holland is to provide the student with potential businesses where they can intern. She also needs to provide assistance to each business about what she expects them to provide the student. The role of each business should be in the words of Dr. Holland a “managerial coach.” This means to provide the student with opportunities to apply skills and to give them feedback and insights on how to perform better. The role of the student is to apply the skills from the classroom into the workplace and learn while they work.

Gap 1

We looked at the internship model based on the four factors that the book outlined that affect the width of gap 1. The best way to collect information for gap 1 was to use the survey that we used for the customer gap and to interview Dr. Holland, the provider of the service.

The first of the four factors that influence gap 1 is inadequate marketing research orientation. We found in our interview with Dr. Holland that there was barely any research that went into the internship program. Mostly, the businesses contact her seeking interns to work in their company. The only time research is required is when there is a problem with the internship experience. If problems arise with the internship, Dr. Holland undergoes a service recovery process.

The service recovery process that Dr. Holland undertakes is a three-step approach to solve the situation. First, she will communicate with the manager to determine if duties have been delegated to the intern. Secondly, if the current manager is failing to provide the proper guidance then she will look to see if there is another employee who will take on the responsibility of overseeing the intern. If those two measures fail, then the final step is to look for a completely different business for the intern to work at. However, this situation is very rare. This usually only occurs if there is a total breakdown in communication between the business, student and Dr. Holland.

From our research, there are only a few situations where there is a lack of upward communication between the student and the business manager. This usually occurs when the student is too timid to ask questions about their job responsibilities. One student addressed this point by stating, “If anything was done differently, it would be to ask more questions. It is easy to become apprehensive of asking too many questions because no one wants to be a bother.”

The communication process between Dr. Holland and each business is not insufficient, but we feel this could also be improved. Dr. Holland stated that she communicates with each business only six times a year, once at the start and once at the conclusion of each semester. She indicated she really doesn’t have time to go out and visit each business like she wants or each company might expect. Dr. Holland would also like the student to update her throughout the semester on their progress, but usually she only receives this update with the midterm report. She would also like to stay in contact with the students after the internship is completed but this hardly ever takes place.

Insufficient relationship focus is not really a huge factor in the internship program. However, Dr. Holland did indicate that she tried to establish contact with former interns by hiring a student to make phone calls to determine their current job status. This initiative failed when the student employed to take on this task did not produce any results. Budget cuts and the lack of results from the previous experience have made her hesitant to allocate anymore time, money, or effort to continuing relationships with interns after they have completed the program.

Based off the survey we conducted and the interview with Dr. Holland, we have developed some recommendations for the internship program. The recommendations are divided up among each of the four primary factors that affect the width of gap 1.

Recommendations for Marketing Research

There is very little marketing research done by Dr. Holland in the internship program. We feel that by instilling complaint solicitation research Dr. Holland can improve the internship program. Complaint solicitation requires little money and not much time, two aspects that will be valuable for Dr. Holland. Additionally, the research will help her to identify common service failure points that are preventing her students from receiving the real world experience and positive internship they are seeking.

Recommendations for Lack of upward communication

With the lack of upward communication our recommendations are to encourage both the student and the business to communicate more with Dr. Holland. As stated earlier Dr. Holland only communicates with each business six times a year, this is actually quite a bit of work on her part. If more businesses were to contact Dr. Holland during the internship to let her know how they felt things were going it could prove to be very helpful. The same concept would work from the student’s perspective. The only issue is how to implement this idea. Dr. Holland could make it very well known to both parties what the easiest way to contact her. The students already have to send her a midterm report via e-mail and she could encourage them to e-mail her more frequently if there are any problems. Also, Dr. Holland could encourage the interns to ask questions not just of her but the business as well. Some students are hesitant to ask questions because they feel they are being a burden. Dr. Holland could make sure to clearly communicate that questions are part of the internship process and if there are any problems she should be notified immediately.

Recommendations for Insufficient Relationship Focus

For insufficient relationship focus the recommendations are to try to keep a relationship with past interns. Stated earlier, Dr. Holland said that she tried to stay in contact with past interns by phoning them and determining their current job status. Our recommendation is to ask students if they are willing to stay in contact as advisors to the program. These past interns could inform the current students of what to expect from certain companies. In the long run it is hard to keep a long relationship focus with this service because its focus is so geared toward new customers.

Recommendations for Inadequate Service Recovery

In providing a better service recovery system, we have found that two key things are missing. Although Dr. Holland has a system in place to address problems when they arise, there is no system for the complaints to be received. Therefore, the first recommendation is for Dr. Holland to make it easier to receive complaints. This will encourage “voicers” to give Dr. Holland their input in a constructive manner. Dr. Holland can encourage the student to constructively criticize the internship if it is not going well before the required midterm report. She can do this by explaining it verbally during the interview process or written in the internship information packet. By letting students know upfront their complaints are encouraged, they will be more likely to share information and help the program to become more efficient. Dr. Holland stated in her interview that she sent three different students to one manager before finding out the mental instability of that manager. Only when the manager was eventually put into a psychiatric ward was Dr. Holland made aware of the situation. Dr. Holland did not receive any complaints about the internships and was not quickly alerted to the situation. If the students had been encouraged to complain they could have perhaps communicated these problems more effectively. The second recommendation is to let students know who to complain to. Again, this can be done verbally in the interview of written in the internship packet. By making the students aware to complain to her, the complaint will more likely get up the chain of command. Furthermore, this will prevent complaining to friends, family or third parties and prevent bad word of mouth about the internship service.

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