Digital Spark is a program that pairs students with startups, small businesses, non-profits, and legacy businesses in the Collegeville area and beyond. It is an immersive 8-week experience in the summer providing Digital Marketing services to small businesses seeking growth, with students working to design and implement a digital marketing strategy that has outcomes that can be quantified. This program satisfies a student’s XLP requirement for the core curriculum and puts students in a collaborative relationship with an employer, allowing them to become a close partner in the enterprise.
According to Maureen Cumpstone, Ursinus’s Entrepreneur in Residence, “Digital Spark offers students an authentic, real-life opportunity to observe and/or participate in entrepreneurial activity so that students develop grit, problem solving, and initiative in a supportive learning environment.” A goal of the program is for students to develop oral and written communications skills, networking skills, and the ability to engage with professionals. Cumpstone encourages students to “put your social media skills to work in a role that will help you develop professional marketing skills, project management skills, and leadership skills.”
Emma Wood ’23 had the opportunity to work with a local goldsmith at Seth Michael Studio, creating fun materials to help grow the business. Wood explained, “We worked together to make process and instructional videos over the creation of a particular piece and update the business’ website/social media outlets. The experience gave me the opportunity to refine my graphic design skills, jumpstart my video editing skills, and pushed me to try things outside of my comfort zone.” She learned about social media marketing and gained knowledge of how certain ways of working and content creation lead to increased user engagement and overall success. She recommends this experience to all class years, describing it as an amazing opportunity to make friends and learn more about social media marketing. Wood emphasized, “The lessons that this experience offers can also be translated into personal projects and endeavors, so it truly is worthwhile.”
Emily Nash ’23 was partnered up with a start-up business called Excursion Ciders, located in the Kimberton Village of Phoenixville, PA. She ended the program with helping the business gain 107 new followers on Facebook and 117 new followers on Instagram. Nash’s takeaway from this experience is “that you don’t need to feel comfortable with what you’re doing. You won’t always have the answers and you’ll face challenges that you’ve never faced before, and that is okay.” She hardly knew anything about marketing entering the program but working as a team with her peers and other accomplices, she was able to give the owners of Excursion Ciders “a strong start to their business endeavor and their dream.” Continuing to see the effect of her participation in the Digital Spark program, Nash was recently recognized for a scholarship called the Christy L. Barilotti ’01 Annual Scholarship. Her plans after graduation are to pursue digital marketing as a career, most likely in the Philadelphia area. Excursion Ciders website: https://www.loc8nearme.com/pennsylvania/phoenixville/excursion-ciders/7289390/
Joe Shapiro ’24 worked with Refresh A Can. He would definitely recommend this experience to others because he thinks that it is a great first internship with structure and housing provided. According to Shapiro, his biggest takeaway from the experience “was to trust myself, because in a lot of cases, I knew what I was doing, but I had to be confident in my judgment.”
It is evident that the Digital Spark program works to create well-rounded, innovative students. While providing the opportunity to learn more about digital marketing, the program also fosters the development of personal skills through the confrontation of new challenges and the experience of leaving one’s comfort zone.
Kate Horan firstname.lastname@example.org