Local companies partner with marketing department to close jobs gap
By Karla Jackson, USF Alumni Association Editor
Tampa, FL (April 5, 2013) — Ashley Macaluso, '07, has come a long way only to find herself right back where she started – in class at USF. The difference is that this time around she is in front of the class, featured as a guest lecturer representing her employer, Bayshore Solutions.
Bayshore Solutions, an integrated digital media agency, is one of three local agencies that are partnering with the USF College of Business to offer a course in digital marketing called Social Media applications. Collaborating with Bayshore is AtLarge, a boutique digital media agency in Sarasota, and ChappellRoberts, a well established, full service agency headquartered in Ybor City. All three companies are sending their best and brightest executives, several of whom are USF alumni themselves, to share their expertise on digital marketing, a burgeoning field with a dire need for new college graduates with the right skills.
Hiring demand in digital marketing is at an all time high and growing, according to Wanted Analytics, a Canadian talent management firm with offices in New York City. The pay isn't bad either, ranging from $37,324 - $51,713, according to PayScale.com. What's lacking, at least in the Tampa Bay area, are people with the right skills, says Ian Dyer, vice president of Bayshore Solutions.
"There are few people in the current workforce who know search marketing and other aspects of digital marketing and no one is coming out of college with these skill sets," he says. "So where do we find these people?"
USF Marketing Department Chair, Dr. Anand Kumar, decided to be proactive about filling that void. The problem is that digital marketing is a new and evolving field that hasn't been fully explored in academia. "You can't really go out and find a PhD that specializes in this stuff to teach a course," says Dr. Kumar.
So a few years ago, he crafted an alliance with Bayshore, AtLarge, and ChappellRoberts to offer free workshops to USF students in digital marketing skills: search engine optimization, analytics, social media campaigns, and more. That's where Macaluso first learned about digital marketing. Now, six short years later, she's an expert, working as an account manager at Bayshore and training new employees.
The workshops were so successful that they evolved into a three-credit hour course, offered for the first time during the Spring 2013 semester. Led by instructor Carol Osborne, a former Cox Media Group vice president with 30 years of marketing experience, each class features a guest lecturer from one of the three agencies who focuses on a specific digital marketing topic. The course wraps with student teams presenting a full-blown digital marketing plan in front of the class and agency representatives. Students say they are excited about gaining sought after, real world skills from people on the front lines.
"They're the ones who are learning the newest trends in the industry, and it's nice to have real life applications rather than strictly theory from textbooks," says senior Justin Smith, who graduates in May with a 3.9 GPA. "I've learned something useful from each lecture."