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St. Norbert class partners with local businesses to improve corporate communication

Improving internal communication is a hot topic for businesses today. “Companies are always saying they need to communicate better, but they don’t know how to do it,” says St. Norbert’s Kim Smith, assistant professor of communication and media studies. Smith came up with an idea: pairing students with local businesses to study a particular communication-based issue.

Green Bay firms Ameriprise and Dental City quickly signed on. The inaugural program, which started this fall, is part of the college’s Organizational Communication course. The course is taken by all communication and media studies majors.

Representatives from Ameriprise and Dental City were each paired with one class of about 20 students. Students working with Ameriprise examine how the company can create a more dynamic workplace that will keep employees engaged. Dental City, which is experiencing a lot of growth, is interested in learning how it can keep employees connected and on the same page as it expands.

Speaking of the students, Dr. Smith explained, “They’ll do some online research, use resources such as pamphlets and brochures that are provided by the organizations, and interview specific employees for more insight on the topic.” During the remainder of the course, she’ll guide the students in analyzing and assessing the information they have unearthed. At the end of the semester, company representatives will come to campus and listen to the students’ reports.

Dr. Smith says the project will offer numerous benefits for all involved. Ameriprise and Dental City will gain fresh insights into their companies’ current communication practices, along with ideas for improvement, all at no cost. The project will also afford the companies the opportunity to connect with St. Norbert students – potential future employees. The St. Norbert students will gain valuable insights into real-world business issues while having the chance to make beneficial connections.