Students from Oklahoma Baptist University’s Paul Dickinson College of Business recently created several published books and online businesses as an exercise in succeeding in the “Gig Economy.” This practical experience was one of many that OBU students undertake in their courses to better prepare for their future careers.
The “Gig Economy,” according to Whatis.techtarget.com, is “an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.” According to a 2010 Intuit study, more than 40% of the United States workforce will soon be independent contractors or contingent workers. The characteristics of a gig economy include mobile workers who work on a temporary basis using their skills sets.
The digital age is producing a growing number of freelancers from writers, designers, and software developers, to accountants, financial analysts, and engineers. Most universities are not aware of the Gig Economy and have not prepared their students for this cultural trend. OBU is an exception.
Students in one of OBU’s management courses have been busy all semester creating online businesses to showcase their abilities to maneuver and successfully sell their skillsets in the Gig Economy. This course teaches students skills and knowledge in operations and project management. This semester, nine students were challenged to create an online product on Lulu.com, a freelance publishing platform. The products ranged from a cookbook to university calendars. The majority of the students sold at least one product through the website. Several students became authors as a result.
Sarah Ingle, a senior business management major, authored her first book, “Intrinsically Italy: A Beginner’s Guide to Rome.” The book is a guide for new and experienced travelers looking for insider information about the “Eternal City.” She has sold 13 copies since publishing last week.
Katie Richey and Kyle Perdew sold 76 cookbooks, with proceeds going to charity.
“Stay on track with your schedule, as unforeseen difficulties always arise,” Richey said of authoring a book. “Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed.”
In another class, an introduction to marketing course for mostly juniors and seniors, the students were given a much more complicated assignment. In this online assignment, 34 students were required to create a viable product on Fiverr.com, an online global marketplace offering products and services starting at a price of $5. The website is very competitive with millions of products and global sellers.
Dr. Daryl Green, OBU assistant professor of business, thought the project might be mission impossible. “Marketing is needed in everything you do. We teach students about creating value for buyers. I introduced this assignment to my MBA students several years ago, but they did not see a lot of success. Online competition is fierce.”
However, the student team of Brady Clinton, Kasey Collie and Jacob Vanderslice received the Award of Excellence in the class for creating a business service that generated the most revenue on Fiverr.com. Their company, “Hey That’s Pretty Good Marketing,” offered marketing evaluations to small business owners who might not have the capital or time to properly invest in marketing their own business.
Green was pleased with the outcome and the valuable lessons the entire class learned from the experience. Vanderslice remarked about his lessons learned with this project, “Branding is all encompassing and has become increasingly important with social media.”
Green argues, “If universities want to be relevant, they must engage millennial students in practical problems to build their problem solving skills.”
The mission of the Paul Dickinson College of Business is to provide a quality, Christian-based education to our students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business. The university equips business graduates with the skills necessary for leadership positions in contemporary professional careers. OBU’s business degree programs are nationally accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.