Marketing visits Dick’s Sporting Goods for regional conference

Alex Trabold, Staff writer

On Feb. 9, students from the Walker College of Business attended the 6th Annual American Marketing Conference (AMA) Conference hosted by the University of Pittsburgh. The event was held at the Dick’s Sporting Goods headquarters in Coraopolis, PA.

The day included two panel discussions of representatives from Pittsburgh businesses including the Pittsburgh Steelers, 321 Blink Marketing, Ethic Advertising Agency, Tech Blue and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Other national companies included Highmark, FedEx and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“My favorite part was the professional panel with employers,” senior marketing major Adam Pasay said. “The opportunity to hear everyone’s story was delightful and helpful.”

Alex Regina, Ph.D., professor of Marketing, saw a lot of educational value from the event as well, citing the company representatives as very informative.

“I think the value here was the ability to listen in on panels where representatives from a lot of major companies like Highmark, UPMC and the Pittsburgh Steelers were asked a variety of pertinent questions as to what it is like to work in the marketing industry, the challenges they faced, and how to deal with people both internally and externally in their fields,” Regina said. “The open Q&A session was also helpful, as students were able to ask what they are most concerned about as a young professional and also ask advice for finding careers.”

The panelists gave advice to students entering the business world about their experiences and where the industry is leading today.

“I found it very informative and cool to sit down with big company leads like a Steelers’ representative, and ask them about their journey and get any advice about how to survive in the industry,” sophomore marketing major Ariel Wall said. “I thought the day went very smoothly and it was really awesome to be at the Dick’s Sporting Goods building in Pittsburgh and interact with the people there.”

Regina attended the conference for the first time with his students and found the day to be a great experience for networking and expanding students’ marketing skills.

“I thought the conference was really well-organized and that the University of Pittsburgh AMA chapter did an excellent job of getting industry experts there to offer panels with valuable information to students looking to get into the field,” Regina said.

Being at the Dick’s Sporting Goods facility was an exciting experience for all of the attendees.

“Dick’s Sporting Goods was a phenomenal host, opening up the doors to their state of the art facility to us and also providing us with an amazing lunch from Mad Mex,” Regina said.

Following the morning’s panels and networking, there were breakout workshop sessions and a student case study competition.

Senior business management major Abigail Vietmeier and senior marketing major Michaela Thomas participated in the case study competition where they were given a fake marketing situation to solve. This allowed the students to test their skills in hopes of winning a Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card.

“I think it’s great that Mercyhurst gave its students the option to attend this conference,” Vietmeier said. “It is fun to do something new and to expand your horizons. I recommend it to any student and to do the case study competition if they go.”

While Mercyhurst did not win the competition, Thomas and Vietmeier found the experience fun and valuable.

The attending students showed great enthusiasm and enjoyment from the conference.

Regina also felt content being the only faculty member there, as he felt that it was nice to be on the student’s side at a conference like this. He gained a lot of new information that he could reliably relay back to his students in future classes.

“My main takeaway from everything I heard was two-fold: marketing can be a chaotic field to work in but the key is knowing how to manage the chaos and pick your battles to be efficient and expedient in getting work done for the end client. The other item I learned was that you need to be able to have a strong self-concept and market yourself by highlighting your strengths to communicate confidence and value to a client,” Regina said.

Furthermore, Regina plans to bring more students to this valuable experience, seeing it as a great opportunity to get students into the marketing field and allowing them to forge their own careers.

“I was slightly upset that there were not more employers there during the final networking session, but I do think this is a valuable experience for the students to at the very least meet others in their major in different programs around the area,” Regina said. “I believe that networking with other young professionals and building strong ties can lead to opportunities just as much as meeting a seasoned veteran in the field.”