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Business students score with Hockey NL partnership

Student Life

By Susan White

Hockey NL asked, and business students at Memorial University delivered.

Five students stand rink-side at at D.F. Barnes Arena in St. John's. There are three male students and two female students.
From left are Miguel Santos, Lauren Courage, Rachel Hiscock, Russell Noseworthy and Aaron Hull, five of the 10 business students who worked on a consulting project with Hockey NL.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

A group of bachelor of commerce (co-operative) students completed a full audit of the provincial sport organization’s marketing and communications efforts, resulting in more than 50 recommendations. Hockey NL accepted all of them.

Ten Memorial students participated, led by Dr. Kirby Shannahan, professor of marketing at the Faculty of Business Administration.

The students received academic credit for their work.

Looking for opportunities

Dr. Jared Butler, president of Hockey NL, says the original idea was for the students to review the organization’s marketing and communication program — analyzing what they were doing, whether or not it was running efficiently and effectively and looking for opportunities to expand and improve.

“The students who worked on this project completed and presented a body of work that was exceptional, drawing huge praise from our board,” Dr. Butler said. “Every aspect was professional. I feel we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as to the opportunities for partnership between Memorial and Hockey NL.”

The project came together when Hockey NL identified a need and Dr. Shannahan, who’s on the board of directors for the Avalon Minor Hockey Association, came up with an idea to provide a unique experience for business students.

Dr. Shannahan acted as faculty advisor while students audited all of Hockey NL’s internal and external marketing and communications activities.

The students also researched other hockey associations and sporting organizations across Canada to inform their recommendations.

“They did a lot of research and spent a lot of time thinking about recommendations that could really benefit Hockey NL,” said Dr. Shannahan.

‘Impressed and grateful’

Students Lauren Courage and Russell Noseworthy were involved in the project.

Lauren Courage, Dr. Kirby Shannahan and Russell Noseworthy lean against the boards at D.F. Barnes Arena in St. John's.
From left are Lauren Courage, Dr. Kirby Shannahan and Russell Noseworthy.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Ms. Courage, a fifth-year commerce student, says the real-world learning she gained has been second to none.

“This experience has been like no course I’ve taken or job that I’ve ever had,” she said. “It’s been demanding, yet very rewarding. It’s been our ideas, our knowledge and our research that has put this project together and brought it to life for Hockey NL. Seeing how happy, impressed and grateful the organization has been has made it all the better.”

Mr. Noseworthy, a third-year student, agrees.

“Seeing the hard work that we all put into this project come to fruition and affect change is gratifying,” he said. “The opportunity to make a tangible impact on a local, non-profit sports organization as part of my coursework is not something that comes around every day. I’m grateful that I was able to participate.”

Continuing partnership

The students’ recommendations ranged from which tools to use for efficient internal communications and best practices for planning its annual general meeting to revamping the Hockey NL logo and starting a TikTok channel.

Another key recommendation: hire the students who developed the plan.

And Hockey NL agreed.

“Our partnership with Memorial is a fantastic way to demonstrate how students and a not-for-profit can benefit from each other.” — Dr. Jared Butler

The organization is hiring the students for the next four months. Beyond that, Hockey NL will partner with the Faculty of Business Administration’s co-operative education office to hire commerce students for paid work terms to continue the work.

“For more than 20 years, I have been incorporating experiential learning projects into my teaching,” said Dr. Shannahan. “But I have never had an organization be impressed enough with the results of a student project to say, ‘Hey, we like what the students have done and now we’re going to hire them!’ This speaks volumes about the calibre of the students involved in this project.”

Dr. Butler says Hockey NL is excited to continue collaborating with business students.

He says it’s a chance to “innovate and propel” Hockey NL forward.

“It takes a great deal of work and time from volunteers across Newfoundland and Labrador to make hockey happen every year, and that job is complex with new and evolving challenges. Hockey NL and our programming can be a place for people to learn, develop and grow in the off-ice parts of the game. Our partnership with Memorial is a fantastic way to demonstrate how students and a not-for-profit can benefit from each other.”

Mr. Noseworthy agrees.

“I believe that a partnership between Hockey NL and the business faculty would go a long way, opening up new opportunities for students and potentially creating opportunities for other sporting organizations to commit to similar co-operative partnerships.”

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