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Emory Serviss, Program Champion and Instructor in the Department of Marketing, quickly adapted to remote learning by utilizing GroupMe and Canvas, continuing to communicate with students through alternate channels, when necessary.
"One of positive things about COVID-19, because we're online, is this has allowed me to bring in guest speakers from a much wider geographic area than I would have been able to do pre-COVID-19." -- Emory Serviss
Emory Serviss has many roles at the Harbert College of Business, and each have a direct impact on students. Not only is Serviss the Program Champion for the Department of Marketing, but he also teaches a Digital Marketing elective and serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Auburn student chapter of the American Marketing Association.
Serviss, who came to Auburn after a successful, 20-year career in a variety of B2B and B2C marketing roles, shared his passion for helping students succeed, techniques in the classroom, and how COVID-19 changed the way he delivered instruction.
Once COVID impacted the way we educate, how else did you adapt as an instructor to ensure that students received the same, quality education as they had before?
Serviss: One of the things I did very early on is I immediately created a GroupMe account for my classes. That's a tool that students use to communicate among themselves. If a student is at home or in their apartment struggling with an assignment, they can quickly get on the GroupMe, ask the question, and then either I or another student will usually respond within minutes. I have heard students, especially in spring when we kind of had to turn on a dime, really appreciated the ability to have that personal connection that was missing with remote instruction. Something else I did is have weekly online Canvas discussions. Questions are based on the chapter material that we are covering that week. When they write their responses to the questions I have posed, I go in and I engage with them as well as other students. This replicates the back and forth that you would have in class.
How are you delivering instruction and reaching students?
Emory Serviss, who teaches Digital Marketing, drew guest speakers from the New York Stock Exchange and the Atlantic Coast Conference to speak to his classes via Zoom during the early stages of remote instruction.
Serviss: One of positive things about COVID-19, because we're online, is this has allowed me to bring in guest speakers from a much wider geographic area than I would have been able to do pre-COVID-19. I've had the person who ran social media for the New York Stock Exchange speak to my students via Zoom. I had the person who is over all digital marketing for the Atlantic Coast Conference speak to my students virtually. I've had the person that does social media marketing for the Grand Ole Opry and for the Houston Texans. I've gone out and I've tried to get guest speakers who are champions in their field, to come in and speak to my students. So that's something I would not have been able to do prior to COVID-19.
How did you adapt as a program champion to meet the needs of marketing students?
Serviss: I came to this job with a wealth of industry contacts, but since day one I've worked hard to grow that network in cities that my students want to live in post-graduation, and industries that they want to work in, and jobs that they want to work in, and companies they want to work at.
I have doubled down on my employer outreach, but you have to do it in a very sensitive way because many of these people, they're struggling in their jobs. So the last thing that they want to hear is someone, "Hey, do you have any internships?" I've had to go very relational. I've really had to reach out to folks and just strike up conversations with them. I've also leveraged tools like LinkedIn and Twitter. I know these conversations will eventually pay dividends in terms of getting them on campus to recruit, but for now it's just creating or maintaining a relationship. I'm not trying to sell anything at this point, I'm just doing outreach.
Describe your many roles within the college:
Serviss: I teach a digital marketing elective and professional development course, act as a career coach, manage the domestic internship program for sales and marketing majors, and am responsible for employer development – in essence, besides teaching, I help connect marketing/sales students to industry. I look at myself as the person who, through getting to know my students in the classroom -- whether it be my digital marketing class or professional development class, learns about what my students' hopes and dreams are, and what they want to do when they graduate. When opportunities become available, either through Handshake or through employers reaching out to me, I make those opportunities publicly available. I play that go-between, the matchmaker, through the relationships I've been able to develop with students and the relationships I've been able to develop with employers.
Emory Serviss enjoys the role of mentoring Marketing students and helping them explore career options.
What inspires you to make a difference in the academic and future professional lives of our students?
Serviss: I had to work really hard to advance my career post-graduation. I didn’t have mentors starting out. I always felt that if I ever had an opportunity to help people, I wanted to do that. I actually started to do that after I had worked for a while. I made myself available to be a mentor to younger staff, tried to help guide their careers, really enjoyed helping out. When I started teaching as an adjunct, I fell in love with the idea of helping launch my students into their careers.
When the Program Champion role was posted, I applied immediately because I really am passionate about preparing these students for life after graduation.
You coach students in your classes to build attractive LinkedIn profiles. Why is LinkedIn so important for today’s students?
Serviss: It's such a powerful tool from a business and networking point of view. It allows you to create a personal brand and helps getting your name out there. You can have the greatest resume in the world, but unless people see that resume, they're not going to know what you come to the table with. That's why having that online portfolio of yourself is so important … it's more than just a resume. This is what I preach to my students … make sure that you're doing everything you can to fill out your LinkedIn profile as robustly as possible to include not only the things that you've done, the things that you've attained, but even putting writing samples on there, maybe some work that they have done at an internship that's public facing. Dozens of former students have told me that through them being active on LinkedIn, recruiters or hiring managers have reached out to them for full-time jobs or internships.