Posted January 26, 2009
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Education Competition

Fifth annual Apprentice competition kicks off at DeGroote
by Julia Thomson

Hamilton - The DeGroote School of Business' annual MARS Apprentice competition kicked off on January 20. For the next six weeks, 12 undergraduate commerce students will be completing challenges from JAN Kelley Marketing, BlackBerry and Rogers Communications, RBC Royal Bank, Frito Lay and Canadian Tire Financial Services with the goal of winning coveted full-time paid internships at sponsor companies.

In their first task, students are challenged by JAN Kelley Marketing to develop an integrated 12 month marketing and communications plan for one of their clients, USC Education Savings Plans Inc.

"MARS Apprentice is one of the greatest business competitions available to students, and I take this challenge as an opportunity to gain valuable and unique business experience. A truly complete academic experience at McMaster should be more than just the lectures I attend during the year, but also the extracurricular activities, like MARS Apprentice," says third year student Leanne Mark.

At the opening ceremonies, Apprentice competitors received valuable insight into marketing from Adam Grogan, vice-president of marketing at Maple Leaf Foods, who delivered a keynote address. Grogan was part of the team that led Maple Leaf through a listeriosis recall in 2008, and he discussed the actions that Maple Leaf has taken as a company to grow their brand since the crisis.

"The crisis faced by Maple Leaf in 2008 has proven the importance of strong branding and the critical role marketing plays in delivering business success," says Jocelyne Moyer, McMaster student and co-chair of MARS Apprentice 2009. "One of the goals of MARS Apprentice is to teach students to tackle tough issues head-on, so we are eager to learn how Maple Leaf Foods has responded to this challenge from a marketing perspective."

Now in its fifth year, MARS Apprentice is an innovative undergraduate marketing competition at the DeGroote School of Business. Designed around the central theme of experiential education, MARS Apprentice features two teams of undergraduate students who go head-to-head solving real business cases provided by industry partners. Winning students will receive full-time paid internships at sponsor companies.

Current sponsors include Frito Lay, RBC Royal Bank, JAN Kelley Marketing, Canadian Tire Financial Services, Research in Motion, Rogers, Xerox, Epiphany Coaching, and TEKsystems. Maple Leaf Foods sponsored the opening ceremonies event.

The first boardroom, where the two teams will present their plans to JAN Kelley, will be held Wednesday, January 28 at 6 p.m. in the atrium of the DeGroote School of Business. The boardroom is open to the public.

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