Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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What would compel a 40-something owner of an already successful small business to return to school for an M.B.A. at Ithaca College?
Heather Lane, owner of Purity Ice Cream—a well-known and loved institution in Ithaca and the central New York area—had her reasons: “I had plateaued at Purity. I couldn’t beat my best day’s sales,” she says.
Heather always urged IC students on her staff to finish their degrees but was embarrassed she never finished her own. After taking the final classes needed to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology with the University at Buffalo, she was inspired to scoop up an M.B.A. at Ithaca to boost her business.
“I didn’t understand how transferable the theoretical knowledge was until I entered the program, and then it just became this great game: what can I change next at Purity?”
Heather made operational adjustments, which included changing the way customers move through her store and the location of the cash registers. She also modified the prices of certain products.
Then she tackled the human resources side of the business and created a series of videos so that staffers could understand the nuances of making a great sundae or a smooth milkshake, and even how to mop the floor correctly.
Changes like these and others are what helped Heather eventually beat her best day's sales by 40 percent. She credits that growth to her education at IC.
“The M.B.A. program really pushed me to analyze my operation, make sense of it, and do it better,” Heather says.
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Offering a good grounding in communications, marketing, and business, IC’s integrated marketing communications major is one-stop shopping for prospective public relations and advertising professionals. Christianne Enos couldn’t find a similar program at any other school. She wasn’t thrilled, though, with central New York’s less-than-balmy weather and its distance from her home near New York City.
“I knew that once I graduated from IC, I’d be able to do public relations, advertising, and marketing,” Christianne said. “So, I picked the college for its curriculum and planned to deal with whatever else came my way.”
“Whatever else” turned out to be an unforeseen chain of events that started her freshman year, when Christianne joined IC’s student chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). That led to Christianne’s election as the organization’s secretary, which positioned her to answer “yes” when faculty adviser Scott Hamula asked if any AAF officers cared to try for a Stickell internship, a paid, 10-week, hands-on opportunity available only to student members of the AAF. After a demanding selection process, Christianne was one of 15 applicants chosen from 200 student chapters nationwide. Assigned to IBM’s corporate headquarters, Christianne worked with the company’s advertising team and its agency, Ogilvy & Mather. From that experience came contacts, and from those contacts, a job. Christianne is now an assistant account executive at Ogilvy. Her account? IBM.
“The internship got me into the real world,” Christianne said. “My bosses and team members pushed me to challenge myself, and as a result, I learned the ins and outs of business-to-business marketing and how to maintain a client-agency relationship. A lot of advertising is learned once you get there.”
And getting there meant taking that first step into the unknown.
“Everything I experienced at IC prepared me for this job,” Christianne said, “and for my next job and the job after that. At IC, I learned to be ready for the unexpected.”
More on this story: AAF Student Chapter
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