Morgan George never expected that she would be writing a critically recognized and awarded research paper when she began taking her Executive Internship course. “I took the course to take a deeper dive into the intricacies of the work I was doing each week,” says George. “It quickly grew into so much more.” With the help of Dr. Ismet Anitsal and Dr. Meral Anitsal, George not only developed insightful research, but also gained a deeper understanding of her own skillset.
George’s process of developing her research began in spring 2020 when she was enrolled in MKT 494 – Executive Internship in Marketing. The course, taught by marketing department head Dr. Ismet Anitsal, places students in various internship positions where they are able to learn more about the world of marketing and develop practical firsthand experience that is relevant to both their educational and professional development. The course consists of three main components:
- Completing a semester-long internship with a reputable company.
- Writing a comprehensive internship reflection paper based on daily journal entries.
- Developing a research paper relevant to the internship context and industry.
George, who was interning in a social media position at a local Springfield company, decided to look into the details of social media campaigns for the research paper component of her class. In particular, George wanted to investigate the effects that influencer marketing has on adolescents. “I took a look at issues that the marketing industry faces and noticed that children and adolescents were heavily featured,” says George. “There is a difference in how adolescents perceive what they see versus what an adult sees.” From this point, George began the initial stages of planning out her paper and developing the concept of her research.
George began attending weekly meetings with her professor, Dr. Ismet Anitsal, to discuss her progress in her internship and on her research paper. Dr. Anitsal helped George to shape her research and pointed out how she could express her observations in an academic fashion. Following the transition to online learning in mid-March, George and Dr. Anitsal moved their meetings to Zoom to continue the research development process. “[Dr. Anitsal] gave me the idea to formulate the conceptual framework proposed in the paper,” says George. “He helped me get it to its fullest potential.”
With the transition online, George was introduced to another valuable resource: Dr. Meral Anitsal. A professor at Tennessee Tech University, Dr. Meral Anitsal was able to offer a third-party perspective on the research, adding another dimension to its coverage. George greatly appreciated the added assistance saying, “teaming up with both of them really gave me a chance to see what it was like to work in a professional collaborative experience that was more than a class project.” Working together, the group was able to put together a paper that was viable for publishing.
“Influencer Marketing: A Conceptualization of the Developing Phenomena among Adolescents” by George, Anitsal and Anitsal was presented in the 2020 Online International Fall Conference of Institute for Global Business Research (IGBR) on October 7, 2020. The paper received a Distinguished Research Award at the conference, and the abstract has been published in the IGBR Conference Proceedings (Vol. 4, No. 3, ISSN 2576-2699). The full paper is currently under review for publication in the Global Journal of Business Disciplines.
Looking back on her experiences, George says that the experience was extremely beneficial to her professional development. “I feel like I walked away with much more than a grade for a class but instead walked away with a completely new set of skills that I can carry with me into the professional world.”