Valuable Exposure: Students Work Closely with Industry Executives in Entertainment Tourism Course

As the entertainment and tourism industry is booming in Southern California, Mihaylo students are in the “Shark Tank” with industry executives.

It’s a big opportunity that requires a great deal of time and professionalism from the students.

A lot like the “Shark Tank” television series business competition, says Jennifer Chandler, professor of management, “this project ups everyone’s expectations and their game.” It’s part of the MGMT 470: Entertainment Operations course, which explores what happens behind the scenes of a business and the process of monetizing intellectual properties. The semester also focuses on how to draw a great story out of a project or idea and monetize it as much as possible.

Chandler says the point of the project is for students to take something that already exists and spin it off, “giving it more ‘likes,’ as we would say.”

Known for her innovative teaching in the classroom, Chandler was one of the 10 faculty members who received a grant to further her interactive style. In addition to encouraging original instruction and rewriting curriculum, the grant allowed Chandler to add this semester-long project featuring industry executives, from elite companies like Disney-ABC, Activision/Blizzard, Google, AT&T U-verse and YouTube, who coach students as they create an eight-minute video pitch.

Generous with their time, each executive coaches two teams from the class. The students meet with the executive two to three times throughout the semester and receive feedback on their progress. Chandler says it is not always positive, but the critical feedback is particularly valuable. On the last day of class, Chandler hosts a potluck, and the students and mentors watch all of the video pitches.

Some of her students are saying this is the toughest group project they have had because of the interaction with the industry executives.

She’s not trying to make it more rigorous on the students, she adds, but she wants them to get real-world experience out of the course. “It’s a strong learning experience. They have to up their game.”

The networking opportunities are one of the long-lasting byproducts with this project, because the students are getting one-on-one coaching from leaders within their own industries. Chandler says the students are very aware that their performance matters and an experienced audience with a critical eye is evaluating their work.

Says Chandler: “I hope students get a deeper understanding of the course concepts while getting deeply curious about how these things work in the real world.”

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