Born in Kansas City, Alexa Eghbali knew she was interested in marketing since taking a class in high school. Although she visited ten universities while trying to decide where to go to college, Missouri State was her ultimate pick. It was the last university she visited, and the campus, the College of Business, the offerings in courses and extracurriculars—everything just felt right.
One student organization especially piqued Alexa’s interest: Bear Breaks, an alternative breaks program that sends students on community service trips around the country during school vacations. Students are immersed in a location and are given one major volunteer focus to work on within a community.
Alexa started with Bear Breaks during her sophomore year. Her first exposure to the program was as a participant on a spring break trip to Chicago with a focus on hunger and homelessness. She was a trip leader for her second spring break trip and went to Dallas with a focus on underprivileged youth. Finally, this year she is on the executive board as the marketing and fundraising chair, working to raise money and recruit more participants to the organization.
The marketing position on the Bear Breaks executive board was a new challenge for Alexa. She felt that the biggest issue common to both of her job duties—recruitment and fundraising—was that people just hadn’t heard of the organization, which is only six years old. “When I stepped into this role, that was the first thing I wanted to tackle—getting more people involved, getting the word out.”
The key to recruitment was to understand her target market of Missouri State students so she could make connections with them and get them interested in the organization. “You have to analyze who they are uniquely in order to best reach them. There’s no really one-size-fits-all solution.” She found that by scheduling five minute presentations at the beginning of other student organization meetings, she was able to reach a lot of people and generate interest. “Connecting with the students on a personal level through some common ground, going to an organization that they were already involved in and creating some trust there, being an approachable person that they can come talk to or email questions to—I thought that was the best choice.”
It seems Alexa’s hard work has paid off: The 2016-2017 school year saw the first excess of applicants ever. In addition from raising the number of trips from 7 to 11, Alexa says that Bear Breaks had to turn students down for the first time. She says that now the goal is to get more faculty involved so that they can take more trips, and therefore more students. Each trip requires a faculty member along with a graduate student advisor, which means getting faculty involved and excited is just as important as working with students.
Bear Breaks has been an opportunity to apply marketing strategies and ideas that Alexa has learned in class to real-life problems. But that hasn’t been the only extracurricular business learning that has supplemented her classroom learning. Alexa also took a semester off to study away in Rennes, France, taking advertising and business classes. She says her perspective on business has changed because of studying away. “You have to change how you interact when you’re doing business domestically versus doing business internationally. And that changes from country to country.” The key, she says, is to be flexible and adaptable, and that can apply to doing any business anywhere.
For all of her hard work at MSU, Alexa was recently awarded Outstanding Marketing Student in the Advertising & Promotion Option and named a Dean’s Distinguished Scholar at the College of Business Spring Awards Banquet. After a rich and fulfilling college experience, Alexa looks forward to her first post-graduation adventure: She has taken a job in the Myers and Stauffer Marketing Department as a proposal writer for acquiring new clients, which came out of an internship she had previously. She’s excited to both go back to a company she knows and to Kansas City. With Alexa’s love for community service and trying new things, she knows that tackling new responsibilities or jobs in the future can be exciting and rewarding, and that she is well-prepared to do it.