Students help Goodwill through class project

’Tis the season for giving, and one Cornell College class focused their efforts on giving advice to a nonprofit organization for their Block 3 class.

Students in ECB 212: Social Networks partnered with Goodwill of the Heartland. They offered tangible advice on how the organization could better utilize their social media platforms and identify their customers.

“We compiled everything we learned into one huge project that somebody might actually use, which is awesome,” said Taylor Axelson ’19.

Students presented their findings to two representatives from Goodwill of the Heartland for their final project.

“We ended up with a lot of great takeaways, and what’s really nice about it is it’s specific to our Goodwill organizations,” said Goodwill’s Vice President of Marketing Mindy Kayser. “They’re not generalizations that maybe we can and maybe we cannot apply but really some specific ideas.”

Goodwill’s Creative Services Manager, Brent Watkins, said they’re planning some action steps right away.

“There are some very specific and accurate touch points on using some of the persuasive metrics on crafting our content and scheduling it that we can discuss with the person who is doing our hands-on social media management, right away,” Watkins said.

Goodwill of the Heartland works to help people overcome barriers to independence. They help people get jobs in their retail stores, offer employment assistance, and provide support for people to live independently. Students enjoyed taking a bigger look at the organization’s efforts to gain more customers by analyzing the organization’s data, meeting with the representatives, and coming up with ideas for Goodwill.

“Knowing that we are the ones who did the work and presented ideas they are able to use —it’s really cool to see that,” said Zachary Yankovich ’19. “It makes me realize we’re doing something before we even graduate by getting involved with that company and gaining experience. Students at schools that don’t do the block plan wouldn’t get that opportunity.”

The group projects unfolded in stages, including a final practice run of their oral presentations to the representatives from Goodwill of the Heartland. They learned a lot through this process.

“I think one of the main things is all the hard work pays off,” Axelson said. “I know we spent a lot of late nights working on this, but to see the actual business partners’ reaction and how much they appreciate what we did was really awesome.”

This course introduces students to the science of networks, integrating ideas from sociology, economics, and mathematics. Throughout the class, students visualized networks and explored concepts through data acquired from popular social media websites including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

“I enjoyed the class, and it gave me insights on how our world works,” said Matthew Klug ’19.

Students said they learned skills that will help them regardless of what field they choose to enter.

Professor Santhi Hejeebu agreed. She said that when students share their talents with organizations in the community, everyone wins.

“Goodwill Industries was founded by Cornell alumnus Edgar Helms, class of 1889. His spirit of service lives on in today’s students,” Hejeebu said.