Students Take Their Homework to the Workplace

Posted: April 29, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

by Ryan Effgen

A group of students in Laura Casal’s English 302 Advanced Composition class have taken an assignment beyond the classroom. Their assignment was to create a hypothetical business, association, or institute and develop business plans and marketing materials. Instead, they created plans and materials for a real business in need of these very services.

Juniors Dina Evans, Sharon Hagan, and Paul Pierre, and sophomores Nick Carter and Paulina Gonzalez worked with Upscale Gift Baskets, a recently established minority-owned business in Old Town Alexandria. As a brand-new venture, Upscale Gift Baskets was short on finances and resources. The students took the opportunity to test out their skills in the real world of business by creating everything from catalogues, a logo, and letterhead, to legal documents, business plans, and a web site. The students offered their services freely, and the business owner, Vanessa Goodrum, had the option to use the services as she saw fit.

“They were absolutely excellent,” says Goodrum. “This is a great help for a small business. They thought outside the box and came up with things that hadn’t occurred to me. I am very certain that I will use a lot of the material they’ve put together.”

In keeping with Casal’s business-oriented theme for Advanced Composition, students are required to compose a resume, and this group of students will have actual experience to include on theirs. “Dina’s group decided to take on a real-life project and has done a marvelous job,” says Casal. “This type of exercise is preparation for what the students will face in the workforce. As a teacher, I love watching their creativity and industry.”

“Working for an actual business versus a made-up organization not only provides the students with real-world business experience, it provides a greater sense of accomplishment, community support, and a job recommendation,” says Evans. Having recently returned to school after several years in the workplace, Evans knows the value of practical work experience. “The benefits do not stop there. The work we have done has offered the business owner a leg up on the competition in a tight market.”

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